BTS033, Opting Out of Kindle Unlimited, My First Free Promotion on Kobo, and Outlining a Short Story | June Author Diary Update
BTS033, Opting Out of Kindle Unlimited, My First Free Promotion on Kobo, and Outlining a Short Story
I hope you are all well and are staying safe.
In June, I made the decision to opt-out of Kindle Unlimited, and I don’t regret trying it out. Due to this experience, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons which I will put into practice for another series. While I’m on the topic of lessons learned, I also change my focus from sales to getting more book reviews. And I share the steps I plan on taking to make this happen. Even though I’m shifting my focus to book reviews, I share the results of the book promotions I’ve paid for throughout the month.
Now, on to the writing-related news.
In preparation for the launch book two, I decided to write a new reader magnet for my mailing list. During the month, I outlined a short story in the James Lalonde universe. And I made progress on the rewrites for James Lalonde book two, and I’m finally sharing the title and cover over on the blog post with you.
On top of all of this, I’m making a special announcement, at the end of the episode.
About the Episode
Just to let you know, this episode was recorded on Tuesday the 20th of October, so this show is primarily me looking back at the month of June. In the same spirit as the previous episode, there is a backlog with the show due to the pandemic situation that we’re all facing. After a while, 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 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, and my husband working from home.
So, I’m sorry for the lack of video this week.
Why I’m Leaving Kindle Unlimited
I know it’s not good to jump in and out of Kindle Unlimited, but I had reached the end of my exclusivity period, and I decided to reevaluate my options. In terms of advertising, the cost per sale is higher when my books are enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited programme than wide. Obviously, this means I need to spend more money to make a sale. And this month I stopped getting reads, even with free promotions but this might be pandemic related. Another crucial element that might be contributing to my lack of success is I haven’t written to the genre, and I think this might be an important step to getting the most out of Kindle Unlimited. On top of all of that, I only have one book in a series.
Focusing on Book Reviews
As I alluded to in the introduction, I am changing my focus from book sales to book reviews. What I have noticed is, for me, it’s easier to get reviews and ratings on Goodreads than Amazon. At the moment, chasing reviews is proving to be a double-edged sword because I’m getting reviews from people who have read the first edition. But, despite all of that I’ve still decided to try out a few services and apps.
In light of this, I’ve decided to use a service called Lola’s Book Tours. On the website, paid for a read and review service, where the organiser of the blog find readers who like to read books for free and leave reviews. Offhand, I do believe I paid USD 60.00 for the service, but, the service has no minimum amount of participants. It’s not without its risks.
Another app and service that I’ve tried is Book Sprout. Upon signing up, I decided to purchase the Pro Author Plan for $100 per year of $10 per month. There is a slight discount when you purchase the annual plan. Book Sprout is a service that helps you distribute advanced reader copies and prompts the readers that sign up to leave a review on Amazon. The service has its own pool of readers. And, without trying or promoting, I managed to attract a reader who went on to leave a five-star review on Google Play and the Amazon Canada store.
Book Promotions I’ve Used this Month
Even though I’m focusing on getting book reviews, I’m still using book promotion services. I’m using these services with the hope that a small percentage of people will leave a review.
After listening to the New Author Podcast, I decided to use Awesome Gang to promote Missing while it was on a 99¢ sale. A featured listing on the futon page is USD 10.00, but it’s an optional cost, which I chose. At the end of the day, I had two sales thanks to this promotion.
Next, I decided to give CraveReads a try. The cost of the promotion was USD 9.00. Once again, Missing was on sale for 99¢. When the promotion was I over, I received one sale on Amazon in the US store.
Facebook Boosted Post
During this promotional period, I decided to boost a Facebook post, but I no sales just a lot of likes. Upon noticing this, I turned the advertisement off for obvious reasons. I wasn’t looking for validation in the form of likes because I wanted clicks through to my books2read page where the reader can find the book on their favourite e-retailer.
Free Promotion on Kobo
Over in the Promotions tabs on Kobo, I signed up for a free Mystery and Thriller promotion on Kobo. If you’ve published a book on Kobo or are planning to publish in the future, and you don’t have access to the promotions tab, all you have to do is send Kobo an email and ask. It’s that easy. The promotion is signed up for ran from the 29th of June to the 5th of July, and it cost £3.00. Yes, I know, it’s super cheap.
Between the 29th of June to the 30th of June, I received 83 downloads. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m hoping to get reviews from this promotion. In terms of ranking on Kobo, on June 29 I was at position 2987 in Mystery and Suspense International charts on Kobo. By the end of the day on the 30th of June, I was at position 1955 in the same charts on Kobo. I’ll keep you updated for July in the next podcast episode which will be BTS034.
Other Paid Advertising and Promotions
While the Kobo promotion was running, I turned Amazon ads for the US store back on, but I received no sales. And, I said yes to a Bargain Booksy promotion, but this time it will be published wide, on all platforms. The price of this promotion was USD 50.00, and it’s scheduled for the 16th of July.
A Writing Update
In June, I completed twenty-four hours of writing time spread over eight days, across two different projects. The writing projects I focused on in June was a short story set within the James Lalonde universe and the second book in the James Lalonde series. Even though I didn’t get a lot of writing done on James Lalonde, book two, I’m still happy with the progress is made.
My writing progress for June.
Writing a Mystery Short Story
The first project that I worked on in June was, a mystery short story set in the James Lalonde universe, called The Candidate. For those of you who are curious, the Candidate is the story of James’s first case as a journalist after being employed at the Northampton Tribune for six months. James’s first six months at the Northampton tribune, James worked as a research assistant, so he was a step up from the usual copy boy role. On this project, I completed six days or twenty hours and forty-five minutes of writing.
Fleshing Out the Outline
Because this is a murder mystery, I had to decide which characters would be interviewed by James before I started to flesh out the outline of the story. At this stage, I technically did have an outline, but each scene had a short sentence description, like James invert views suspect number three. On top of that, I needed to get clear on the things the characters were honest about and the truths they would withhold, and the reasons they had for talking to James. After that, I created a timeline for the victim fo the crime; then I added scene blocking notes for every scene in the story. Next, I added word count targets to the outline spreadsheet and realised that I’m technically writing a novelette, but I’m going to market it as a short story.
The spreadsheet I use for outlining has several columns. I decided to populate the easiest columns first; there were location, scene title, and timeline (weekday, date, time). My next step was to label the scene according to its type; I got this tip from a book called writing to market by Chris Fox*, and I keep a reminder of the scene types on my corkboard next to my Alice in Wonderland calendar. For reasons of managing suspense in the story, I rated each scene according to its intensity and added it to a separate column in the spreadsheet.
The scene notes transferred from the outline spreadsheet to Scrivener for the Candidate.
Creating a Structurally Sound Outline
To ensure all scenes have a purpose and are pulling their weight, I added notes on scene question and scene goal (why this scene?). As a way of revising the outline, I added notes in the columns for value shifts, conflict, stakes, and cliffhanger for each scene in the spreadsheet. I added a column for misdirection or red herrings to the outline spreadsheet, this is a step that’s new to my outlining process, but I will probably start using it from this story onwards.
From Spread Sheet to Scrivener
Next, I set up the Scrivener file. For some reason, I enjoyed this story. I think it had something to do with moving on from MS excel and getting closer to writing. As a part of the setup phase, I imported the scene details into scrivener, in the notes section for every scene. After this, I added an extra scene to ensure the story has a satisfying conclusion, and all of the story threads were resolved. I eventually circled back and added scene blocking notes to the interview scenes because, at this stage, those moments were not fleshed out. At this stage, I’m ready to write the first draft of the Candidate. But I will not be writing this story until I finish the revised draft of book two.
My Progress with Book Two
In June, I did four hours of writing on book two, which were spread across two days. To be honest, I’m calling this month’s writing efforts a win because I’m ready to striating writing the Candidate straight after I finish with this book. I plan to write the Candidate while I wait for feedback from my editors. One of the things I’m most excited about is I followed through with my plans to share the title and book cover with my email list. The title and cover were unveiled over two emails in June. On top of this, I shared the book cover on Instagram and Facebook, but that was only after I shared the cover with my list.
As you can see from the cover, the title of book two is Duplicity.
Writing Mindset Issues
At the moment, I’m feeling blocked about writing Duplicity. Once again, I’m putting this down to losing interest in rewriting the book and being riddled with writers insecurity. But this month, I did further revisions of the first three chapters of Duplicity with the help of Autocrit. Next, I created a sample epub and Mobi file with Vellum and shared a three-chapter sample with my email list. Towards the end of the month, I added a link to the sample over on my author website. My decision to share the first three chapters with my list was a last-minute choice. Essentially, I wanted to reward my email subscribers for their loyalty and give them a taste of what is to come.
June was plagued with tech issues. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But, while I was working on the outline for the Candidate, issues with MS Excel crashing and losing work. In the end, I resorted to creating a copy of my outline in Scrivener before finally opting to use google spreadsheets. It turns out MS Office 365 stopped updating, period, so I had to reinstall; fingers crossed it works. Tragically, I ended up redoing about four hours of outlining. So that was fun.
I’m Looking for Beta Readers for Duplicity
I’ve decided that I want to start using beta readers for the second book in the James Lalonde series. The good news is, you don’t have to read the first book to understand the events that take place in book two. But you do need to love mystery or whodunnit novels. At the moment, I’m looking for feedback on the plot, if there is any place in the story where you are either lost or bored, and who you think committed the murder, and how you feel about the ending. As of today, there are twenty-seven chapters available to read, out of a possible fifty-three. New chapters are uploaded on Wednesday and Sunday every week into the beta-reading software. Each chapter has been revised by me and line-edited using two types of online editing software. Still, it has not bee professionally edited.
How Do You Sign Up?
If you love mystery or whodunnit novels and are interested in becoming a beta reader and providing feedback, then fill out the online form by clicking here. I’ll send you an invitation to read Duplicity on the software.
So, that’s all of the tasks I completed in terms of writing, book marketing, and email marketing. During the next month, I want to direct my focus back to rewriting book two and working through my writing insecurities. The next episode will be another diary episode, where I will continue to discuss my writing and book marketing endeavours.
If you have any questions or have tips on book marketing, please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Thank you for listening, and happy reading and writing, everybody.
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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.