Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Experiment Gone Horribly RIGHT

In math class, we had these word problems about objects rising and then at what point does the object stop rising and begin to fall, where will the object be a t= some random number?

I sucked at those.

Yesterday, I made CANCELLED free on Kindle through the KDP Select program. I don't know if I caught a magical Monday of no competition or if the planets and stars aligned, but what I do know is that thing took off like a rocket!

I woke up, giddy, at 6 AM with my husband. I checked my "sales" had 250. I was ecstatic. Saw that I was ranked #11,309 out of #70,000. I thought to myself, "Yay, I might make it into somewhere between #1,000 and #2,000 FREE" That was my hope.

9 hours later, I cracked the Top #100 FREE by making it to #89. I was "selling" free books at about a rate of 4.5 per minute.

It is now 12:19 AM, there are 3 more hours of my "free" status. I am:
#17 in Free fiction.
#8 in Free Romance.
#5 in Free Contemporary Romance.
#4 in FREE in Contemporary Fiction.

How in the heck am I doing best in Contemporary Fiction?

The more startling aspect I learned from going free is just how big Amazon really is. Before this, I sold my 6 little books each month for the last two months and thought "Wow, I'm really lucky to have those sales." NOW I realize that thing is a behemoth once it gets going! I'm watching my "sales" jump 10-17 books every minute I refresh the page. Who are the 17 people who downloaded my book last minute? How on earth are there 10 more doing it this minute?

Sorry. I'm now #28 in Kindle Free (which also includes apps). Oh, and #15 in Free Fiction. 12:36 AM.

So now I know I wasn't a speck before, I was a speck on a speck. Possibly even a speck on a speck on a speck.

How did I do this?

First of all, I, didn't. Others did. I was listed on The-Cheap.net's Kindle streams, Pixel of Ink's Facebook streams, a few Chicklit blogs and Facebook streams, and who knows where else. I don't even know. I didn't plan ANY OF THIS. I put out on Facebook last night I was going free, talked with a few readers who got a signed ebook last month, and set up my tweets to tweet my book link as free once per hour from 4 AM to 11 AM.

The tweets helped get the ball rolling, but it was mostly other authors tweeting me. Having the tweets scheduled helped authors just click and RT. That certainly helped, but it's not where the lion's share came from....

When Readers Take It Personally

Reading is a very personal act. What we like, what we don't like reflects who we are as a person. Books we like we want to brag about. THIS is what catapulted me to the top.

I know you all have heard, probably a little too much, how I signed ebooks for readers. I know. However, it was two readers who received early copies, and NOOK owners mind you, that took it as a personal mission to make me a best-downloaded Kindle author in one day. How personal?

They sent me personal messages on Facebook of status reports all day long--messages telling me where they posted the links, who they told, who they got to share the link, and updated ME on my rankings. Seriously. I ended up with an army and I thought this was just a drill! I need to share something here for authors, and please don't go to Facebook and go after the two readers who helped me (a few have already tried). They aren't master marketers or even interested in marketing other books, they just wanted to help me because they cared about my book (not saying they won't care about your book, they have to read it first, and they aren't interested in being professional bloggers or reviewers, they're happy being readers).

So here's what you will all find fascinating. One of the readers took charge and informed me that she talked to the admin at Pixel of Ink and got permission to share my book on their Facebook wall. I chuckled and said "You did what? How? Do you have any idea what that means?" Of course she thought I meant she had stepped on toes. I had to reassure her, no, I was just shocked. THERE'S A WAITING LIST FOR PIXEL OF INK.... if you're an author, or if you know someone. If you're an author, you have to submit first (totally understand, agree 100% with that system, it's self-promotion). But readers truly have the power to walk right up that bouncer and say "Can I get in the club" and the velvet rope just unclicks in a split second.

I could sit here and say maybe I underestimated my own goodwill with others, maybe this would have happened if I had gone free last week. I don't think so. Certainly being someone few dislike in this industry helps, but I don't think it was me. I really think a handful of readers that wanted to see the book they enjoyed get "kudos" they thought it deserved is what happened January 30, 2012. It wasn't about me. It was about them. It was about social networking at it's most basic function, "Look at me, I like this, it's wonderful, therefore I'm wonderful." And I'm not saying that to belittle those readers who supported me. Not at all. I'd give them a kidney if they needed it! I'm saying that all of the broadcasting, tweeting, poking, prodding, begging, and and pleading isn't what propelled my book. It was a few people who wanted their network of friends to see that they had a book they liked, and they were going to make it a success. And I am 100% amazed at their magical abilities!

I think having a strong cover helped, and having a high overall rating caught people's attention as my book was free. But the real catalyst that caused this chain reaction was that I happened to make reading special for a few readers. Maybe through my writing, maybe through my personality, maybe both! I don't know exactly what I did, but I'm going to keep doing it!

There's 2 hours left in the promo. I've had such fun today. I've been truly touched at how many people came out of the woodwork to support me, some authors I haven't had a chance to pow-wow with in months! I can feel in my gut this is a big turning point for me as an author. This changes my perspective on many, many issues. I feel wiser. I feel more aware of my little role in this great big publishing machine.

I don't know if I'm ready mentally to read all of the reviews that will come in. I don't know if I'm morally ready to look at the sales that are going to come as my book falls back down the charts. I do know I'm ready to write that next book and get it into the hands it belongs in. A reader's.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble 

WIP: STONE. Can Melanie Stone let her mother back into her life and kick out the creep trying to worm his way in? March 2012.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Going Free KDP Select

I was ranked #222,100 last night when I went to bed. I had sold 6 copies of CANCELLED this month.

This morning, I woke up 6 AM and I had 250 downloads. By 7:15, it was 300. At 7:54 AM I made it to 402 downloads. And now it's 8:33 AM and I'm at 544 downloads.

8:35 AM, 550 downloads.

At 7:30 Am I was ranked 11,309 in Free Kindle.

I will update as the day continues.

As of 12:45 PM EST. 1600 downloads.

#16 on the contemporary fiction charts (yes, I'm beating the free sample of James Patterson!)

I couldn't have done this without all of my friends and other authors helping tweet the book out. I can not believe it! We'll see how fast I sink like a stone, but I'm a Best-downloading author (not quite bestselling yet, but one day). 

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble 

WIP: STONE. Can Melanie Stone let her mother back into her life and kick out the creep trying to worm his way in? March 2012.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

#ROW80 Excited to Write Again

First off, I took the plunge. CANCELLED is temporarily exclusive to Amazon as part of the KDP Select Program. I am going FREE 2/10 and 2/11, just in time for a great romantic weekend read, love from HIS point of view.

I will go free again April 1, 2012. That's when Kindle will get STONE. But wait, isn't STONE coming out in March? Yep. Only on Nook. That's right. I love BOTH of my children, lol.

I will definitely need help getting the word out from my friends when I go free. And if anyone else is going free before then, let me know. I will gladly Tweet my heart out.

I have handwritten all 150 notes and scanned them into the computer. At the time I am writing this last night, I am up 90 of them cropped to the correct size. Today I will make all of the ebooks and send them out. Monkey off my back. But I AM loving the reader response.

I am not quite on time word count wise. But I have a kick-ass outline that is 5 pages and scribbled on in every nook and cranny. :) Besides, I finished Chapter 1 and got it off to a few Omega Reader eyes. Good news is the flavor is there, they want to read more. Only 10 more Chapters to write and STONE is done. Yes, it's 11 Chapters long. I really like this novella format. Cancelled is often described as "packing a punch" and a "quick enjoyable read." Well, STONE packs a 12 gauge.

My story question is: Can Melanie Stone let her mother back into her life and kick out the creep trying to worm his way in?

One liner: A single mom with a Joan Jett attitude kicks a creep out of her life. With a shotgun.
AND a teaser:
There's NO TRESPASSING in Melanie Stone's life.

Long description:

A single mom for her son's entire seven years of life, Melanie Stone has done just fine on her own, thank you very much. But her recently retired mother has other plans, friends know what's best for her career, and a first date in years turns out to be a complete psycho! Melanie's carefully crafted life is slipping through her fingers and she's ready for people to start listening. Even if takes pulling a 12-gauge shotgun for her to be heard, there's NO TRESPASSING in Melanie Stone's life.

Can Melanie Stone let her mother back into her life and kick out the creep who has wormed his way in? Find out in STONE.

And this is probably my favorite part of the story... my dedication. You see STONE touches on the way abusive relationships develop, inch by controlling inch.


Physical and emotional abuse is a very serious issue and today's modern relationships are not immune. Abusive situations don't usually occur all at once, it's a gradual slide into completely unacceptable behavior. By keeping everyone aware of the warning signs, we can help stop the vicious cycles from ripping apart more families.

STONE is for every man and woman who has said, “No. I will not be treated this way.” I am astounded by your courage, and thankful you defied the statistics. And for the abusers who get help to break the cycle before it comes to charges, I am proud of you, too.

Finally, to the two people in my life that protected themselves when they had to, you are my heroines. I love you both very, very much.

Stay tuned for Wednesday as I hope to have a complete signup for my ebook cruise in March. It's a special event blog site I'm creating where authors are going to highlight their books' settings as a "virtual cruise" for readers. There will be interactive activities and best of all, partnerships with some great reader blogs.  

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble 

WIP: STONE. Can Melanie Stone let her mother back into her life and kick out the creep trying to worm his way in? March 2012. Don't Forget My #ROW80 Friends!!! Please Pay Them a Visit and Leave Some Comment Love.

Friday, January 27, 2012

KDP Select Analysis REDUX

Regular followers of this blog know I have 0 problems admitting when I was wrong. This is another one of those posts. Maybe not so much as wrong, but re-evaluating my thinking as the data has come in. And no, it's not the line of thinking you might anticipate.

My gut reaction to KDP Select back when the monkey wrench was thrown into the publishing world was that I was firmly on the fence and therefore erring on the caution. I am changing that position.

First, my next book, STONE, a novella, is coming out in March. Also, my POD of CANCELLED was picked up by Barnes and Noble and is the first result when someone searches Cancelled on BN.com. It doesn't link to my Nook book at all, as the publishers are different.

The plan:
I am going to announce in mid-February that Cancelled is coming off the Nook site temporarily on March 17th, but will be back at the end of June. Meanwhile, the print version of Cancelled will remain available on Barnes and Noble and lower the price of the print version as low as I can (I should be able to get it down to about $7.90-$8.95 depending on if BN keeps giving a $1 off like it is right now). I will be 100% upfront about it, and let my Nook fans know that this is just a promotion I am trying out.

However, STONE will release on all channels on release day, both Kindle and Nook. So I'm giving Nook readers a heads up that if they want to get Cancelled, do so before the middle of March, and I'm making sure my new release goes out to everyone at the same time. This way I'm not playing favorites.

I will make Cancelled free for two days when STONE comes out, again after Mother's Day, and finally at the end of the 90 days exclusivity with PAST DUE comes out in June. This way I maximize the "exclusivity" requirement to its fullest extent.

After this, I will have all books available on all channels for awhile. SERVED comes out in September and I will probably put CANCELLED on sale for $.99 for 30 days in celebration of that release.

If this experiment goes well, and depending on if I lose the reviews I have for Cancelled on Nook by moving it to off sale on BN, but I don't think I will, I will consider putting either STONE or PAST DUE into KDP Select for Christmas time. I think it will be PAST DUE as the sequel to that is scheduled for March, so I could do the same kind of thing, make PAST DUE free around the time of the release of the sequel.

All of my ebook files will be modified to advertise the other books as books come out.

So that's the plan. Feel free to weigh in and I'd love to hear what other authors think. I think there is no denying that using the free days on KDP Select bumps you up, and I want to do that when I have more than one book available for readers to read. The twist here is that the assumption has been we have to put our new releases on Kindle first, and I'm working around that. Worst thing I lose is the 4 reviews I have on Barnes and Noble at the moment.

So here's the goal, and I have to make it here before any of the above can happen. One step at a time.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: STONE A single mom with a Joan Jett attitude kicks a creep out of her life, with a shot gun.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

#ROW80 Back in the Saddle

So after an ambitious To Conquer list earlier today, I thought a quick recap of what I accomplished might be helpful. You see, this blog is for other authors, but I also use it to chronicle my journey. If I'm ever uninspired, all I have to do is read a few early posts and see how far I've come. I just have very far still to go.

STONE is outlined, with dates and times, and the storylines are strong. I began writing on it again tonight and the main character shared something I didn't know. Well, I knew she was estranged from her biological father, and that he's going to give her a significant amount of money for her birthday that her and her mother are collectively unhappy about. What I didn't know was WHY the father felt guilty enough to overkill his adult daughter's birthday.

And then I put my main character, Melanie Stone in a hospital and she wigged the f* out in the waiting room. Memories of spiral fracture and bruises.

I had no idea. And I feel a little looney tunes saying that I feel sickened that my fictional father figure in my story could hurt his little girl like that. To me, these people are real. Well, as real as memories of people I know in real life could be (no, these characters are not based on real life people, though).

I can see now this story is going to be hard, but it has to be told. On top of the subject matter (which was always going to be somewhat heavy given that she has a manipulative, controlling creep she has to kick out of her life), the schedule is rough. I want to finish the rough draft of about 50,000 words in 28 days. I know!

But, one of the mistakes I made with my last book was NOT believing in myself to make a deadline. Yes, I missed my deadline for the first draft, but that was more because I knew I HAD ample padding in the timeline before publishing. I beat my publishing date by almost 2 weeks. And that first draft deadline? I jammed out 18,000 words in four days to kill it.

To be clear, I am not sacrificing quality for quantity. I AM ramping up my production to match my  personal skill set, including professional procrastinator. You see, I have enormous front end time. Some authors just GO and see where the story takes them. I can't. I can't write more than a couple thousand words before I have to pause and plan everything out. I have 5 pages of outline and notes for STONE, down to bits of dialogue. I have a very strong non-fiction background. I am your "Have outline, will write" girl. Even if the outline is just 2-3 ideas, I ALWAYS pre-write.

Now, do I know everything? Not quite. The above example is a great illustration. You see, as I was outlining, I put in "Stone's birthday, Dad gives her $500" and then I bring it up in a scene later on when Stone and her mother have lunch. I KNEW it was important, that Dad felt guilty about something. I didn't think it was sexual abuse, originally I thought it was being a child-support dead beat. But that didn't quite fit either, so I didn't write it down (err. type, I type my notes). It wasn't until I put Melanie at the hospital in the fourth scene of the book that I instantly knew she wan't okay. She was agitated. It's almost like if I could feel a ghost presence, that's how it felt.

Next thing I knew, it was "what are those particular types of fractures that mean child abuse?" Looked it up, saw a picture, and ugh. Killed me as a mom.

So, what did get done today? Well, I signed 20 more notes. I have 24 scanned and cropped. I need to scan in 20 more and crop them. Then I can make the 44 ebooks and send them out. That will bring me to 92 ebooks total signed and delivered. Only 57 more to go (assuming no one else signs up for my newsletter in January). In the future, I'm going to still sign ebooks, but only on certain days I think.

I wrote 1400 words on STONE. The total now sits at nearly 5K.

And that's where things are and I am going to bed. :)

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIPs: STONE (March 2012), PAST DUE (June 2012), SERVED the sequel to CANCELLED (September 2012).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

#ROW80 Just Keep Swimmin'

Not every race has a great start.

I've stumbled a little out of the starting block, but I'm getting my stride. This week:

  • Featured on 3 different blogs as part of my ebook signing tour. In all Honesty (about how honesty and frankness make you vulnerable, but be honest anyway) on Words from the Heart, A fun piece on My Mess in Texas about the first time I met my inlaws (you'll laugh) on Going Crazy, Wanna Go?, and another humor piece on Zen Cherry about I Need the Royalties to Pay My Parents Back (for all stuff I destroyed as a kid). 
  • Finished outline for STONE completely. Only have 2,500 words though written. Tick tock, March is coming soon.
  • Formatted an ebook and have two more orders in next two weeks.
  • Wrote and scanned 20 handwritten notes for my signed ebooks. Only 60+ more to go. Need to put those ebooks together today and send them out.
  • Made trailer for CANCELLED. It's so much fun!

In my personal life, we are potty training my two-and-a-half year old. I have a timer set for every 20 minutes to get her on the potty. I have no earthly idea how I'm going to write around that, but I'm gonna! :) It just might have to be blitzkrieg #wordmongering = ten minutes writing, ten minutes off.

To conquer list for today:

  • I need to send out the 24 ebooks I have hand written notes for
  • I need to send out my newsletter today, apologizing for the delay in getting the signed ebook to everyone and have a link to a free download of CANCELLED while they wait.
  • Write the tech article for my newsletter (I think I'm going to cover free office productivity software, sideloading to the Kindle using the whispernet email addy, and how on Nook, when you gift a book to a friend, if they aren't jazzed about it, they can convert it to a Nook gift card for same amount of money)
  • Get 4,000 words written on STONE
  • Write blog post for the LAST STOP on my blog tour

Good thing I cleaned my house yesterday! LOL.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hire Melissa Oyler For Your Cover Art

There are people you run into in the writing industry that really make this career a joy. My cover artist, Melissa Oyler is one such person. Her pricing is VERY affordable, and I don't say that to mean she's cheap or a good "alternative" to use. I say that upfront because I know as an indie author, every penny counts. Melissa also works with authors for a payment plan, too. For my first cover, CANCELLED, which had custom design elements AND photography, I paid in three installments.

So now that you know you can afford her, here's why you must hire her: she is experimental, creative with an eye towards sales, and fun to work with. It isn't easy to design a cover that translates well large or small, looks fabulous in black and white, and gets a reader to click on the link. And she LISTENS to you, but won't steer you wrong. At one point, I wanted cell phones on my covers to show how "modern" they are. She rightly pointed out what happens in 10 years when we're receiving calls on chips in our heads? Ugh, it'd make my covers like a bad 80s or early 90s movie! Here's how working with Melissa Oyler looks like.

I sent her this:

This is my attempt as a hand made cover with free stock photography. Hey, look, I managed to change the border around the image to look kinda like a stone tile (I added a bevel). I get points for that, right?

I get back this:

It looks like a movie poster to me! It's beautiful. It makes me want to know more. That is one VERY intriguing cherry, and the image is a stark contrast to the title (and a play on the way cherries are called stones, soft of the outside, hard as a rock on the inside). Symbolism is who I am. I have 4 tattoos, all symbols. I have a compass with a W (for my last name), a fleur-de-lis, a Tudor Rose, and an hour glass. 

I will be honest, I honestly thought for a novella, I could do a little graphics magic. I am put to shame. I know which cover looks like a "self-published" author to me, and which one looks like a "professionally published" title. 

But feel free to weigh in. 

BTW, Melissa sent me more than 8 different variations to choose from, and there was a hard choice between this cover and another equally fabulous one. I'd share it, BUT, there is a good chance elements of that cover will be used on a future project, and I can't ruin THAT surprise.

STONE: Coming March 2012.

RUN, do not walk to Melissa's website: melissaoyler.com/contact And if you need another reason to hire Melissa? I always get my proofs early. :) And I do not receive a kick back or anything for business I send to her. But I am selfish enough that I have a ten year career planned. I need help keeping my cover artist employed and available that whole time, please. :)

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: STONE Single mother Melanie Stone has a creep to remove from her life, with a shot gun.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

#ROW80 Better LATE than Never

Jumping in two weeks late... BUT now I have some goals. I missed the last round :( and the round before that I edited and published a novel (WIN!) and basically now I have an idea of where I want my publishing career to go I'm back! With an awesome plan.

I cemented my 2012 publishing schedule this weekend.

March 2012 STONE (a novella about a kick-ass single Mom with a Joan Jett attitude who throws a creepy controlling guy out of her life with the point of a shotgun)

June 2012 PAST DUE (a 3 episode novella about Jill and how her life is worth a negative $80,000 which she's going fix by making an even half-million of debt!

September 2012 SERVED (sequel to CANCELLED. Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and being in love, not with each other.)

December 2012 POISON (short story for WG2E anthology Martini Madness).

First, I had to calculate what is it going to take to write all of these words? Surprisingly not a lot. 8,000 words per week and I'll be done with all by July. That's 8-10 writing hours per week.

Next, I had to check in with my cover artist, the wonderful Melissa Oyler. Her response was "Let's GO!" She is an amazing, full-service cover artist. Her background is graphic design, which is important to me. Want to know how above and beyond she went for CANCELLED? Read how the process went from conception to cover and every single step of the way she worked WITH me, never for me. We have a team type relationship and I never felt like just another client. Hire her. You will get the cover you 100% want at a price you can afford. And probably a friend, too!

So March 22, 2012?

Alright here we go:

January 25: 8,000 words fiction. 3 blog posts (tech talk, one on reader site, one on author site), twitter fun.
February 1: 8,000 words fiction. 3 blog posts
February 8: 8,000 words fiction. 3 blog posts STONE done
February 15: 8,000 words on PAST DUE, 3 blog posts
February 22:  8,000 words on PAST DUE, 3 blog posts, Editing run on STONE
February 29: 8,000 words on PAST DUE, 3 blog posts, Polish STONE
March 5: Get STONE to Omega Readers.
March 7: 8,000 words on PAST DUE, 3 blog posts
March 14: 8,000 words on PAST DUE, STONE goes live (3/13)
March 18: 8,000 words on PAST DUE, celebrate being a twice published author!!!

March 25th, turn 30. :)

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Am I an Author or a Writer?

Dean Wesley Smith is very generous in sharing his years of experience and what he's experiencing in the brave new world of publishing. One of his recent posts is

The New World of Publishing: Investing in Your Own Future

And it begs a very good question: Am I an Author or a Writer?

I'm a little of both.

DWS's definitions hinge on the approach to readers. An author uses marketing to reach readers while writers just churn out story after story to reach readers. Usually, I find Dean Wesley Smith's advice to be spot on, but I propose a happy medium for anyone like me, in the middle of the Venn Diagram.

My Author Side

I only have one book. I'm working on three more stories, including the sequel and two shorter pieces. But my process is very odd. I like to outline. I like to draft out story arcs for each character (even the minor ones) and then I do a rough table of scenes. Then, I plot them on a calendar (so if it's a Tuesday, I know it's a Tuesday). This is the non-fiction writer in me making it work for fiction. :)

I have a goal of 15 novels in 10 years (I anticipate getting faster as I write more and more as that is what happened when I wrote non-fiction articles). 15 novels selling an average of 100 copies at roughly a $2.50 royalty is $3,750 a month. That's a great income for getting to stay home with my kids.

But I enjoy marketing. The same creativity that goes into my stories goes into my guest blog posts and my recent experiment with signing ebooks has been p-h-e-n-o-m-e-n-a-l in getting to know my readers. A recent review on Amazon is a from a reader who felt moved to write a review because she loved my characters so much, and she hasn't done so since reading Nora Roberts in the 1980s. THE NORA ROBERTS!!!!

My Writer Side

I don't really want a super-duper best seller, runaway hit. I'm already feeling incredible pressure just from the few rave reviews I'm getting on CANCELLED. A few comments from readers want to know more about Kellie and Johnathan together (but they don't end up together, that was NEVER the plan). But what happens if I carry through with that plan? Kellie never grows up because she never really had to. I now have to make damn sure I demonstrate that so I don't get a reader revolt!

Anyway, I'm not going to ever make $3,750 a month on one book alone. That's ridiculous. My writing experience is still 1 year writing fiction, 4 years writing non-fiction articles. I know firsthand the bigger your portfolio, the more buyers buy. So while I like the idea of continually writing, I think a new work every 2-3 months is more realistic for me, and that's FAR above my original plans. This way I can take a month or so to market and enjoy my job.

Here's my 2012 Publication Schedule (yes, I mapped ALL of this out in a spreadsheet). These are working titles and might change.

March 2012 - Short Story STONE ($1.99 about 15,000 words)

June 2012 - Novella PAST DUE Episodes 1-3 ($2.99 about 50,000 words)

September - Novel SERVED ($3.99 about 80,000 words)

December - Short Story WHAT'S YOUR DRINK? ($.99 about 8,000-10,000 words, part of the WG2E anthology Martini Madness)

If I make super duper bonus time, I will also write the conclusion to Jill's story, PAST DUE Episodes 4-6 in the summer and publish them right in November.

My goal is 8,000 words per week which is 8-10 hours of writing time for me. That's fingers to the keys #wordmongering (I write 750-1,000 words in 30 minutes). I'm taking 1 hour per day to market, and Mondays and Thursdays are for my publishing work on formatting ebooks etc. Yes, I will be writing on the weekend no more than half of my total word count for the week.


March 2013 - College Craziness (new series similar to Past Due) $2.99 about 50,000 words

June 2013 - Break, finish writing MERGED, last in Red Ink Collection, polish all for boxed set prep

September 2013- MERGED, and Box set ($3.99 and $9.99 respectively)

December 2013 - Angel short story that was almost my first novel


March 2014 - College Craziness vol 2 $2.99 about 50,000, box set $4.99

June 2014 - Johnny Rebel story, a short twist on ghost story $1.99 about 15,000 words

September 2014 - New Novel series not so epic fantasy sci-fi fun :) $4.99 about 100,000 words

December 2014 - Military Misery short story $1.99 about 12,000 words.

There is a co-writing novel in 2012 which will probably bump the second part of Jill's story to 2013 (that's OK). I feel a million times better with a plan under my belt. I may not be producing something new every 2 weeks, but every 3 months is doable for me. My first gig is Mom.

Now money wise, it's a bit complicated......
I assumed an average of 10 books per title selling until June 2012. That's roughly $35.00 per month until PAST DUE comes out. Then I assumed 20 books per title selling, roughly $100 per month. ***

*** This is the AVERAGE, and therefore rough. I could sell 18 copies of STONE when it comes out in March for $13.50 and 2 copies of CANCELLED for total royalties of $18. OR, I could sell 5 copies of STONE and 15 copies of CANCELLED for $44. Both are an average of 10 books per title.

By the time I have a novel, short story, and a novella length work out in June, I hope to sell an average of 20 per title each month. That's June. September is when the sequel to CANCELLED comes out, and that's when I hope the long tail helps boost my average to 30 books per title sold a month, or a total of 120 books over 4 titles.

Grand total I'd like to make $250-$300 in royalties on all of my titles by December.

One way I intend to help my long-tail sales is with my newsletter and marketing events with other authors and bloggers. My ebook signing is so popular, and given my publication schedule, I will probably do an event in February where over 3 days, if you sign up for my newsletter you get a signed copy of CANCELLED with a special sneak peek at the STONE and SERVED. That way, when STONE comes out in March, I've added more names to the newsletter, readers know me, and they will want the short story.

So my plan is to write AND market, because I love to do both!

Oh, and that publishing plan through 2014?

By March 2013, if I can average 50 sales per my 6 titles, I will clear more than $500 per month.

By December 2013, if I can average 100 sales per my 9 titles, I will clear more than $2,000 per month.

December 2014 should be 12 titles plus 4 boxed sets (one for Red Ink, one for PAST DUE, one for College Craziness, and one for my short stories) I should clear more than $3,500 in a month. That's selling a total of 1600 copies across 16 titles.

And I'll call myself a Writer/Author. :)

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Signing Ebooks Experiment

"Hello, I'm author Elizabeth Ann West. Would you like a signed copy of my ebook?"

I was scared. I began my first EVER blog tour with something different and I worried if I was going to come across as that annoying Avon lady with free samples of Skin-So-Soft. Ding-dong! Knock, knock, knock. Would you like my free ebook?

For many authors who are just starting out, we hear all the time how wonderful a "free" sale is. Many great indie authors have been very successful in giving away a title for free to sell the other titles in their portfolio.... for a brand new author with one title giving away free books that readers will read is a Herculean task.

Oh, you'll get the readers that will download anything that's free. But how can you entice them to read it?

One solution is the "Make it harder to get for free." Give them hoops. We see giveaways and contests all the time that say "Like me on Facebook, join my newsletter, Tweet 3 of the 5 tweets below 3 times a day for two days, leave a comment below, add this link here, and stand in the moonlight and shout my name with gusto..." and one of you will win a free book! (Okay, I'm exaggerating a little, but I've seriously seen giveaways with 5 steps to enter. FIVE!). The idea is that if it's really hard to win the free book, it will be valuable and the reader will want to read it.

Unfortunately, that solution kills the original intent of giving away free books. Or at least my intent. My intent was "How can I get my book into the hands of readers who are interested in it for free so that they read it, and if they like it, want to tell others about it?"

My answer came back to customer service. I needed to figure out a way to "touch" the reader. And my solution has in turn touched me in so many ways. But I'm getting ahead of myself...


How do I sign them?

This takes a few computer savvy skills. First, you need a scanner. Second, you need the ability to make your own ebooks. I use Sigil and Jutoh to make epub and mobi, respectively. The Kindle files take longer on my netbook, about 7-10 minutes to compile.

The Procedure:

  1. Write out a handwritten note to the reader.
  2. Scan note into computer.
  3. Crop the notes to remove background, scale down to 400 x 600 in graphic editing software (I use the free GIMP)
  4. Open your ebook making software, insert document called Signing or Dedication directly after your cover.
  5. Copy and paste the jpg image of note into the ebook file int he Signing or Dedication section. Save for epub, compile for mobi.

Results in an ebook where after the reader turns the first page, there is a handwritten inscription to them, just like a printed book signed at a book store.


On my first blog tour stop, we just had readers leave a comment on the blog with the format they needed and an email address. This was a hot mess. Very few readers remembered to include all of the information I needed to sign them an ebook in the correct format and deliver it. And once a reader enters and walks away, how many come back to check? (The posting is here, one of my #ROW80 buddies, Tia Bach hosted me on Depression Cookies and gave me a 5-star review on her other blog, Mom in Love with Fiction)

Together, Tia and I sorted it out but it involved a flurry of emails back and forth to get all 10 ebooks out. My goal for my blog tour is not to inconvenience the blogger, but to give them a day off. I needed a new plan, and quickly. My original destination fell through for January 4 and I asked my friends at The-Cheap.net to host me at the last minute so I didn't lose a stop. This generosity on their part to host me, and at the last minute even, was a HUGE, HUGE gift.


Anyone hear get a newsletter? Yep. But who signs up for newsletters? Well, I can tell you not one person ever signed up for my newsletter as part of my old reader site, before it crashed. I even gave the link the top right spot in the side bar. No clicks.

Out of desperation, because I anticipated that on The-Cheap.net I'd get about 30 requests for ebooks, and 30 email addresses in the comments would have been an absolute nightmare, I signed up for Mail Chimp. In a few hours, I had the gist of their interface (it's free up to 500 subscribers) and made a sign up form. I added two unique fields: Preferred Ebook Format and Have you read any of the Elizabeth's Books?. I copied and pasted the HTML of the form to http://eawestwriting.com/newsletter. This way, I would know which format the reader needs, and which kind of links to send them in a newsletter, AND if they are a new reader or not. This is the blog post I wrote about how powerful reader reviews are. The reader comments are VERY valuable for any author!

I anticipated 30, right? 114. That's how many readers have asked for a signed copy of CANCELLED by signing up for my newsletter. I've sent 10 so far (had a detour to the Emergency Room one night this week and a toddler with stitches in her lip convalescing), and written and scanned 40. I have a busy weekend ahead of me! 74 more to go!

But the readers are leaving comments, saying thank you for getting a signed copy. I'm getting emails from them. It's just like sitting at a table in Barnes and Noble (and maybe one day I'll drag a little portable scanner there and sign ebooks for the Nook in person!) and no way would I as a nobody author get over 100 people asking me for my signature on their book.

And it's a great opportunity for me. I'm really learning who my readers are. I'm wondering about every Kristi, Sue, and Sandy that I'm writing a note to. It's difficult writing a note to someone you don't know, but I'm taking the time to make each one a little different. I don't know if the all of the readers will realize that, but for me, it's important. I know when I send the signed ebook to them, it's special and unique, just for that reader.

The fact that my newsletter list is growing by leaps and bounds was an unintentional, but welcome side-effect. I'm so impressed, I will probably make one day each month a "Sign up for my newsletter and get a signed ebook." Yes, it takes time. But for me, it's time well spent.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dear Elizabeth Last Year

Dear Elizabeth,

I'm you from 2012. This year, 2011, you're going to publish your first novel. I know what you're thinking, that we barely wrote well enough for approval at Twilighted.net, but have faith. You will succeed. But let me give you a little advice to help you before you get in too deep.

Be a Reader....Online

Now is the time to read ebooks and review them on Goodreads and maybe your own blog. I know you're afraid that by reading while you're writing, you might accidentally incorporate their ideas into your book. But that's simply not true. After all, how many hundreds of books have you read before today? Exactly. So read, and review. This will connect you with other readers and when YOUR book comes out, they will feel a connection with you and want to read it, too. Plus, they make great beta readers. Time? Make time. Make Fridays your reading day. We both know you can read a good novel in 3 hours. Aim for at least one per week.

Save up $500 in working capital

The book you're going to write will cost about $500 to produce once all is said and done. Cover art, ebook conversion software, writing books, website costs, and inexpensive marketing is going to run about $500. Be frugal, and learn everything you can. We both know we're not a graphic artist. Hire a great cover artist, like Melissa Oyler, and see if she can work with you. You never know until you ask.

#Wordmongering is your friend

We are major procrastinators. Why do now what you know you can squeeze out later? Right? So #wordmongering is your friend. Meet up with other authors at the :00 and write for 30 minutes. Celebrate your word count. Take a half hour off. Repeat. You write 750-1000 words every time to you do this (because you have a rockin' outline of scenes) and therefore it only takes 90-100 #wordmongering sessions to write your novel. (It's going to take you 5 months to write CANCELLED, but if you #wordmongered 2 sessions per day, you could finish in a month and a half... just sayin').

Be Careful Who You Team With

There are going to be many wolves in sheep's clothing that will love to use your time and talent, or even your money, and not deliver what's promised. You have a heart of gold and easily put other people before yourself. You did this when you were an Ombudsman, when you worked for Alcoa... it's the big sister in you. That's okay, but remember to put your OWN oxygen mask on before assisting others. Your writing must come first.

Everyone is Going to Love It

You're worried no one will like your book. Every writer feels that way, and this stops most of them dead in their tracks. But 99.9% of the time people are going to be impressed just that you wrote a novel. Because it's everyone's dream, and YOU made yours happen. Someone might eventually not like CANCELLED, but that doesn't mean they don't like you. They just couldn't relate to the story. After all, you don't like every book you've ever read but never felt negative feelings towards the author. Well, except for William Faulkner but that's more wrath against the closed minded students in your 11th grade honors English class. And that's okay, he's dead.

So hold your head up high, and keep on trucking. I expect even more from you in 2012, young lady.

You, Monday, January 2, 2012.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)