BTS030, Frustrations with Publishing Wide, Trying Something New, and Dealing with Negative Feedback | March Author Diary Update, Part Two
BTS030, Frustrations with Publishing Wide, Trying Something New, and Dealing with Negative Feedback
I hope you are all well and are staying safe.
During the first two weeks in March, I made a decision that I never thought that I would make, even after careful consideration. Essentially, I’ve let go of an ideal and made a decision for business reasons. But, more on that a little later. In terms of pay per click advertising, I share my experiences with Amazon Ads and paying for an ad to promote my offer on my author Facebook page. Let’s just say that things didn’t turn out as expected.
The last two weeks of March were like a wild rollercoaster ride full of drama and emotions. As a result, I’ve been on the fence for quite some time about whether I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences using Reedsy Discovery. Because these episodes are backlogged, I’ve even thought about deleting this entire experience from the podcast and never mentioning it again.
Since then, I’ve had time to reflect, and I’ve come to the conclusion that not saying anything will not help anyone who is going through a similar experience. I want to give an honest account of my experience because I do believe there is a valuable lesson to be learned, and it’s not about me throwing shade at a company. On top of all of that drama, I will also share how this will impact my James Lalonde series.
About the Episode
Unfortunately, this episode is going to be a bit ranty, partly because this March was tough and I’m tired of all the drama. And, just to let you know, this episode was recorded on Wednesday the 22nd of July so this show is primarily me looking back at March. In the same spirit as the previous episode, there is a backlog with the show due to the Lockdown that we’re all facing. After a few weeks, I’ve managed to figure out how to work from home with my husband and do all of the things I would typically achieve.
If you’re watching this on YouTube you’ll notice that I’ve gone back to an audio-only version of the podcast, that’s because of my hair situation. I know this is a vanity thing, but my hair has become too long and unmanageable, and I can’t get away with wearing a cap. So, I’m sorry for the lack of video for this episode.
And, one last thing, this is the last of the scripted episodes. I’m going to experiment with going off script and trying a new approach to podcasting. Fingers crossed it works out.
On Friday the 13th of March, I killed Amazon ads on both the USA and UK stores. The UK store was eating through my budget. I’ve concluded that I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m just pouring money down the drain. Pay per click advertising feels quite needy, and it’s not important to me right now. I have other priorities. At present, I need to focus on rewriting book two in my James Lalonde series.
During the first two weeks in March, I boosted an offer with a link to my short story in BookFunnel. The page has an optional opt-in because it performs quite well, and I get quality sign-ups this way. I choose my predetermined target audience and set the budget to £35.00 plus taxes over seven days. On Tuesday, I cancelled due to no sign-ups on BookFunnel. Over on Instagram, the ad got a tonne of engagement, but I noticed there was no “Learn more” button to take up the offer. The absence of the button defeated the purpose of running the ad.
To be honest, I have no idea what happened.
Later that day, I started a boosted post with a button to download the short story from BookFunnel. I was trying to boost a short teaser of the short story. A day later, the ad wasn’t approved, possibly due to the word “ass” in the image text. That advertisement was cancelled by me. So, I choose to boost a post from the previous week, that I knew converted quite well. As a result, my email list grew from eighteen subscribers to twenty-five subscribers. That’s seven new subscribers by Wednesday the 11th of March.
Unfortunately, my advertising budget has been eaten up by Amazon ads, so no more ads until the end of the month.
Frustration is my new Normal
During the last two weeks of March, I snapped after Kobo suspended my book for having the words “crime thriller” in the sub-title. The same thing has happened with Draft2Digital after updating the interior of the book multiple times. It took both companies too long time before noticing that my book cover says “A James Lalonde Novella” and not “a James Lalonde Crime Thriller Novella.” Frustrating doesn’t being to describe how I felt about these notifications.
On top of all of this, the price changes on Apple Books are a nightmare. Coincidentally the platform is not compatible with the Google Chrome browser. I can’t help thinking is deliberate, considering it’s owned by a competitor. And, Google Books is a nightmare in regards to creating a discounted price promotion. There’s an epic spreadsheet you need to fill out, and the documentation on how to use the spreadsheet assumes you know things about the store that only an employee would know. Just between you and me, this is a company-wide issue with documentation. In short, distributing wide is time-consuming for minimal royalties in return.
Hello, Kindle Unlimited!
All of this complaining is the reason KDP Select or Kindle Unlimited is so attractive. It’s easy to use and the customer service staff are helpful. As an added bonus, there is only one advertising platform to focus on to build sales. Sure there are others, but you could get by with only doing Amazon ads if you have a backlist of books all in the same series.
Leaving an Ideal Behind
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m going to opt-in to KDP select at my earliest opportunity. So, I’ve sent an email to Kobo about delisting my book because I’ve noticed that I opted into the Kobo plus programme. Kobo has since returned my email and released me from the programme before the end of the term. As a result, I delisted Missing from Kobo, Draft2Digital, Google, and then Apple.
In order of ease of use in terms of leaving, google takes the number one spot followed by Draft2Digital, Kobo, and Apple is last because I had to search for the instructions online. It took a total of fourteen days for Missing to be removed from the FNAC store in France and Belgium. I didn’t have to do anything, I simply waited. On Monday the 16th of March, I enrolled in the KDP Select or Kindle Unlimited programme.
My Experience with Reedsy Discovery
During the last two weeks of March, I received some unexpected feedback from Reedsy Discovery. In readers digest terms, I had an anonymous reviewer tear me a new one. At the same time, I also received a response from the company that knocked me for six. The feedback was sent via what appears to be an automated email saying my book was cancelled from the programme.
In this feedback, the reviewer did admit to not finishing the book, but still wrote a long critique heavily criticising the part of the book that was read. And this is where things start to get interesting. In a rather ballsy move on the company’s part, at the bottom of the email, they directed me to the company’s find an editor search engine. So, I do believe there is a bit of a conflict of interest with the discovery programme.
Naturally, I’m super disappointed and will not be using this service again in the future because it doesn’t do what it says on the tin. I thought the service would connect me with readers but it almost acts as a gatekeeper. The service is more of a critique service or a very harsh beta-read. At this stage in the publishing process, it’s almost too late for this type of feedback. You could use it as a beta read; however, the review will be up on the website forever.
In light of that, I feel like there’s no win for the author.
What’s Next for Missing
Unfortunately, I allowed this reviewing experience to knock my confidence. It got to the point where I was struggling to get perspective—metaphorically speaking, I struggled to pick myself off the floor. My husband, who has read my book, also read the review and he said that the comments did not make any sense to him. And, my mother, who has read the book twice, had a similar response to the review. All of this positivity and encouragement wasn’t enough to get through to me.
On the 20th of March, I had a quick chat with Paul Teague from Self Publishing journeys about whether I should hire a developmental editor based on my experience with this review. The conversation that developed as a result of my initial question helped me gain a new perspective. Looking back, I gave a Reedsy and the reviewer too much power. I allowed them to act as a gatekeeper. And, I should never have given this service or reviewer opinion so much weight.
That was my mistake.
Professional Beta Reading
The first thing I did after calming down was pulling Missing out of Crime Thrillers on Amazon and placed it in the Mystery genre because its a better fit for my novella. My newfound perspective led me to purchase a beta reading service for Missing because I wanted a second opinion. This time things are different because I chose the beta reader based on the genres they regularly read, and the transparency of the service. I have since received this feedback and its quite eye-opening, and I will discuss it in the new podcast episode. Once the service was confirmed, I prepared the manuscript for Missing for beta reading.
While I waited for my manuscript to move forward in the reader’s queue, I decided to purchase another service from AuthorsXP. The service I purchased helps you find beta readers who want to read your book and provide feedback. At present, I’m in the middle of using this service, and I will comment on it in a later podcast episode. Sometime in the future, I will need to make a decision about whether I will create a second edition of Missing, but I will need to do that after I receive all of the feedback.
Unfortunately, I may need to do a minor rewrite and further professional editing, if there is a plot hole in my story. Because Missing is the first book in a series, I need to get it right in order to encourage people to go on to read book two and the subsequent books. I guess that’s one of the pitfalls of writing in a series.
Writing Cozy Mystery Series
Due to my state of mind, I allowed myself to work on the first book in a cosy mystery series that I’ve been wanting to write for so long. I originally started to flesh out the story idea way back in October 2018, and I’ve been working on it off and on since.
Before I initially started fleshing out the idea I had for the series, I decided to write the series to reader expectations. This decision prompted me to purchase a report from K-lytics on the Cozy Mystery Genre.
- A Helpful Writing Tool: Klytics Report on Cozy Mysteries
After this, I decided to start reading a few Cozy Mysteries to familiarise myself with the genre. I do read Cozy Mysteries, but I’ve never analysed the genre before, I’ve always read as entertainment. In the same vein, I decided to watch a few murder mystery films and TV shows. My favourites are the ITV Miss Marple series which you can find on Amazon Prime Video.
Creating the Story World
To help me create a story with reader expectations in mind, I researched what other writers had to say about the Cozy Mystery genre. Throughout the last week in March, I slowly added to the story outline, starting with the most important scenes. During this time, I also worked on world-building exercises. I fleshed out more ideas for the fictional small English village where the series is set. This decision prompted me to research the period I’d chosen and what life was like in Britain at that time.
So, that’s all of the tasks I completed in terms of writing, book marketing, and email marketing. Over the next few weeks, I want to continue to focus on getting my confidence back as a writer. During the next month, depending upon how much writing I get done, I will be announcing the title of my second book and I have some huge decisions to make about my James Lalonde series. Next week, I will release another diary episode, where I will continue to discuss my writing and book marketing endeavours. That episode will be the author diary update for April.
If you have any questions or have tips on book marketing that you would love to share with me, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thank you for listening, and happy reading and writing, everybody.
I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.