Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pippa's Journal - How The New Things Are

So, last week I told you about all the things I'm trying out this month as part of the all new marketing me. Here's a little update on what I'm doing and how it's going.

1. Putting my short stories into KU. The first problem with this is removing my books from other retailers. While Smashwords and All Romance eBooks are simply a matter of going in and clicking Unpublish or Inactivate, there's a slight issue. Remember how B&N can take such a long time to put UP a book? Yeah, it isn't much quicker taking them down either. Smashwords said 1-3 weeks before my books could come down from all the third party retailers it distributes to. So that meant it could be almost February before I could go for KU. I could be missing out on sales from some of the retailers while I wait for the others to remove it (since my sales anywhere other than Amazon have been zero, this isn't a BIG issue but you never know. I might have got a sudden sales rush on one of the other venues). If I'd thought to check this previously, I'd have removed them at the start of December. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! Anyhow, turns out I needn't have worried. It took less than a week for my books to come down from the third party retailers, and I've already enrolled them in KU. Progress report to come!

2. The book launch workshop. I have to say my first couple of days on this were disheartening. We had to take a creativity and personality test, then do a list of our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to promoting. Not only did I get below average on the creativity test, but as regards the personality test I already know I'm an ISTJ. The important bit there is the I for introvert. Putting myself in front of people is probably my biggest challenge, and one that I often shy away from. The internet has been wonderful for allowing me to network and communicate without setting off my need to withdraw, but it still holds me back and I can't bring myself to push past it. So it's a huge weakness that tends to outweigh everything else for me.

However, I'm hoping to benefit from other details on the course. Certainly the suggestions for organizing the tour and looking at various options for promotion are helping. An awful lot of it seems to depend on having money for swag, giveaways and paid advertising, though, which are where I just don't have the budget. One suggestion was to do smaller giveaways, working up to an ereader. Say what?! I'm lucky if I can pay out for the sale price Vistaprint business cards for a title. Plus I'm not sold on the idea of complicated giveaway contests. I have a hard enough time giving books away in return for comments, so I can't really see anyone following me across a dozen blogs playing wordsearch for one. However, I got slapped by a friend/fan who said it was down to one of my giveaways last year that she found me, so I guess they *do* work. You just can't expect a return on the cost.

Our teacher generously donated us a virtual $1000 budget to use for our outgoings and incomes for our prospective book launch, but I based it instead on my real life budget (determined by upcoming royalty payments). I'm lucky that for Keir I essentially have very few production costs, but that's an exception. Overall I'm finding the course beneficial, even if it's just the act of being made to get my act together better!

3. I've managed to pare my reading list down. After sorting my books into collection, instead of 340+ I found myself with 191 unread actual books (others were reference books, dictionaries, cookery books and how to books that I don't count as 'reading' books, plus several I thought I hadn't read but actually had). Since Christmas I've read five novellas, one novel, and two short stories. A good start for the New Year!

4. I'm currently experimenting on changed keywords with Tales from the SFR Brigade on Amazon. There has been an uptick in downloads, but I'm not putting that down to the changes yet. I'll see how it goes until the end of March, then compare it to last year's figures.

5. I said that part of my aim for the relaunch of Keir was to ask for reviews, something I was hesitant about. I've been surprisingly flattered at the number of people who volunteered to read and review, or to repost their previous review. I'm currently waiting for news from my original publisher about removing the out-of-date print edition of Keir still listed on Amazon. This will, of course, mean I lose the reviews currently there, but I'm confident of replacing them. I had to email Amazon about removing it and their response was that the original publisher must take it down - there's no option to merge it with my own publication because I don't 'own' that version despite having my rights back. As usual, Amazon have been less than helpful, while my old publisher is doing their best to fix the situation.

6. Reading up on marketing. Right now I'm not doing so well on this. New articles keep turning up in my inbox, so I need to make a more determined effort to read these, or at least start reading some of them even when I go back to a more normal routine. However, since I've been getting advice from others and I'm working on the relaunch for Keir, I don't yet consider myself a total fail on this. :P I did read this article of improving your email subscription list here.

7. Writing. Following a tweet about setting yourself realistic goals, I decided to go for a very modest challenge of 250 words a day. Doesn't sound much, does it? Especially as someone who would regularly crank out over 1K during a bi-weekly word war on Twitter. But I need to set myself something easy around the greater challenges I'm taking on. And even at that rate, it should give me 91K in a year. I only managed 65K in 2014, so it's still an upgrade wordwise. And who knows, maybe I'll manage a NaNoWriMo this year.

This is not part of my goals for the year, but some things have happened this week that will effect what I'm doing. Last week my publisher announced some changes, including moving from giving ebooks priority to making the print releases the primary focus. This is pretty exciting. While I love ebooks and make good use of my ereader, I'm still a print girl. There's nothing quite like holding a paperback of your own book. So, not only will I have print of Restless in February and Tethered in March, but I now have a tentative date of 30th June for the print release of When Dark Falls. Woo hoo! This means at least three print editions to take to BristolCon in September instead of just ebook download cards.

They've also made their minimum word count for submissions 50K. Wow! That's quite high, especially since I've been struggling to get over the 40K mark in the last year. I have Zombie Girl coming out in April - a YA dystopia short that I wrote specifically because they'd asked for YA shorts. So the announcement made me think that the planned trilogy I had in mind wouldn't be happening. Turns out that, because book one is contracted, they're committed to the trilogy. It just won't be coming out as seperate ebooks. It'll be ONE PRINT BOOK! ^_^

So my schedule is currently:
February - print release of Restless In Peaceville
March - print release of Tethered
April - digital release of Zombie Girl 1
May - re-release of Keir
June - print release of When Dark Falls
Add to that I'm currently working on two short stories for two separate anthologies, due in the end of March and April, plus I have the two Zombie Girl shorts to finish AND I want to put out two more Keir stories, plus another VA series novella, PLUS write a sequel for When Dark Falls that now needs to be over 50K... *spontaneously combusts* Nothing like setting yourself a challenge, right?

How are your New Year goals/resolutions going?

Last Friday I was surprised and delighted to learn that When Dark Falls came joint 4th in Best Steampunk Novels in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. Woot! Thanks to those who voted. My wonderful editor Danielle Fine also came in the top ten finishers for Best Editor, and very well deserved that is too.


Next week is the cover reveal for Keir! I'm so excited to show this to you, and to be closer to relaunching my series. Keir was my first book baby, and I'm so pleased to be bringing him back. Even more so to finally be able to give you the entire series!

Ping Pong

Congrats to Laurie on the early release of her debut! Woot! Now I don't get to hog all the novel page to myself. :P And today she has her cover and title reveal for her SFR novel and series over on the Brigade blog HERE.


  1. Sounds like your year is off to a great start! Just curious, what marketing books/blogs/etc are you reading? I love reading marketing/promo stuff, hate actually doing it. And I have to be careful I don't get sucked into the void hopping through links, but I'm finding it hard to find good marketing advice geared toward fiction authors.

    1. Hi Sandy, and thanks!

      Well, here's my list and I hope you find it helpful. Some of these I picked up for free, most I bought after recommendations from friends (sorry, can't remember which were which in some cases).

      2014 Facebook Marketing Guide for Authors by Vikramaditya Narayan
      The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki
      The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke (recommended to me)
      The Indie Author Power Pack by David Gaughran (recommended)
      Marketing 101 for Romance Writers by Suzanne Rock
      Marketing Matters Top Ten Tips by Cassandra Carr
      And do check out Cary Caffrey's blog series on Indy Marketing - he has very strong opinions, but his strategy works for him. Part one is here


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