BTS034, Struggling to Write Book Two in a Series and the Results of My Free Book Promotion on Kobo | July Author Diary Update
BTS034, Struggling to Write Book Two in a Series and the Results of My Free Book Promotion on Kobo
I hope you are all well and are staying safe.
July was full of surprises. A well known free ebook platform shared my novella to its audience. And I’m going to share the results of this with you. While we’re on the topic of book marketing, I will also discuss the outcome of my free promotion on Kobo. After careful deliberation, I took steps to self-publish my reader magnet on all stores, and I talk about the reasoning behind this decision. As I was publishing my mystery short story, I had a tonne of pricing issues with Apple.
The word nightmare is an understatement.
Now, on to the writing-related news.
In terms of writing, I had a writing epiphany thanks to a YouTube video, that led me, to make progress with writing Duplicity, which is book two in the James Lalonde series. And I started working on the story idea for Book Three.
So stay tuned for all of this and much more.
About the Episode
Just to let you know, this episode was recorded on Tuesday the 8th of December, so this show is primarily me looking back at July. 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 while, I’ve managed to figure out how to work from home with my husband and do most 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, because of the lockdown. I’ve had to pull the plug on video podcast episode because I couldn’t do everything and something had to go.
Free Booksy added my novella to a one-click list of free mysteries with surprise endings.
Free Booksy Shared My Novella on Facebook
Something unexpected happened to me this month, and it’s of the good variety. My book was listed free everywhere except Amazon. I didn’t change it because I couldn’t be bothered. Free Booksy added my book to a curated list of seven free mysteries with surprise endings on the 2nd of July and shared it on its Facebook page. Over on Amazon, Free Booksy curated a one-click buy list on Amazon, after seeing this I’m assuming they must have asked Amazon to price match with Kobo. The unexpected promotion resulted in 862 downloads in one day on Amazon US store. Naturally, I’m hoping I’ll get a few positive reviews on the Amazon US store.
I’m guessing Free Booksy know about my book because I recently purchased a bargain bosky promo and provided links to my books. Perhaps, they saw my free promo on Kobo. For those of you who don’t know, Written Word Media own both Bargain Booksy and Free Booksy. Missing reached the number six position in the top 100 free charts for International Mystery & Crime and Private Investigator Mysteries in the US. And, Missing is at the #181 position in the Top Free in Kindle Store in the US. Even though I didn’t make it into the top 100, I’m super happy with the results.
Free Promotion on Kobo
Running from the 1st of July to the 5th of July, the Kobo free promotion resulted in 119 downloads. Missing started at the 1955 position in the Mystery & Suspense, International Category and ended up at the 263rd position in the Mystery & Suspense, International Category on the 8th of July. Again, I’m hoping for more reviews for Missing on Kobo before the upcoming release of Duplicity. As of the end of July, Missing has nine ratings on Kobo.
My Writing Epiphany Thanks to Austin Hackney
While searching on Google, possibly for something related to “mindset for writers,” I came across a video that gave me an epiphany, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. It was simple.
Work without lust for result.
This simplistic epiphany was courtesy of Austin Hackney. My biggest takeaway from the video was to work on the current scene and take your eyes off your grand desires (self-publishing, tv shows, awards etc). Austin went on to point out that perfectionism is dangerous and unnatural. But don’t take my word for it, check out the embedded video below.
Struggling to Write Book Two in a Series
In July, I struggled to decide whether to write the next James Lalonde book and the rest of the series. What prompted me to consider abandon writing the series was a few mean spirited comments in reviews which brought on a moment of despair.
Becoming a Little More Logical About Reviews
Before rushing into that decision, I decided to create a book review spreadsheet. In this spreadsheet, I recorded the book reviews for Missing, across all platforms, including Goodreads. My first step after recording all reviews was to eliminate all duplicate reviews. When I say duplicate reviews, I’m talking about reviewers who left the same review on Amazon and Goodreads. Unfortunately, I can only do this with written reviews and not star ratings.
After taking a step back and accessing the data, I discovered that 74% out of a total of thirty-four reviewers gave my book rating greater than three-stars. So, Twenty five readers love my book enough to leave a positive review. I know this is probably a cultural thing, but I consider a three-star rating as an “I liked it” review, and two-star rating as a “meh” or “it was okay” review.
Nine reviewers were either indifferent or didn’t like my book. I received five two-star and four one-star reviews. These nine reviews relate to the first edition of my novella. It’s worth mentioning that I received five two and three-star reviews on Goodreads, and I think paying attention to these contributed to my mindset issues. Once again, was I paying too much attention to the reviews, like the “second rate at best” comments, and reviews that bring up issues I’ve since changed in the second edition.
To be honest, I don’t see the point in being mean in a review because it serves no one, that’s my opinion. Just for the sake of clarity, I’m not commenting on these reviews because it’s not professional.
People are Downloading My Reader Magnet
After this, I checked out MailerLite, and I noticed that I received twenty-seven extra subscribers for my reader magnet. Eleven of those readers are from the back of the book. At the start of July, I started tracking the back of the book opt-ins by proving a different Book Funnel link, that populates a source field in MailerLite. Technically, I do have a signup page at the front of the ebook, but all of the e-retailers open the book from the start of chapter one or the prologue. No-one sees that link.
The other sixteen signups to my reader magnet, which is a short story called the Lawn, either clicked a link from my offer on my Facebook page or via my author website. All of this is good news. I am definitely giving too much airtime to a minority of people who are clearly not my audience.
Publishing My Reader Magnet
In July, I decided to publish my short story, the Lawn on Amazon, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. But first, I commissioned a line-edit and proofread. Before publishing, I spent five days devoted to revision, line-editing, and self-publishing, or more accurately, a total of nineteen hours and forty-five minutes. I’m to sell this short story wide to encourage those readers who don’t want to sign up for my email list to start reading my series for a low price and time investment. It’s serving as another point of entry into my mystery series.
While preparing my short story for publication, I considered self narrating the audiobook. It will be free to my list and people who sign up to my Thriller Novel Nerd Podcast which is temporarily on hiatus. At the same time, I’m thinking about releasing this on my thriller novel nerd podcast, per chapter, and letting listeners know they can get the full audiobook by signing up to my list or wait until the next episode of the podcast for the next chapter.
Apple Pricing Issues
On the 22nd of July, started uploading The Lawn to Apple Books, when I came across a surprising issue. I emailed customer service several times between the 22nd of July and the 24th of July. And, I sent a tweet in hopes of finding someone to help me. For some reason, I could not change the pricing above 0.99 USD, 0.99 AUD, and €0.49. There were only two tiers, free and tier one. After seeing this pricing error, I removed the ebook from the store.
At the peak of my frustration, after several emails with Apple Books customer service, I ended up uploading a second copy of the Lawn through iTunes Producer. I uploaded the first copy through authors.apple.com. And, that might be why I have a problem, maybe there is something broken with that upload page. Apple Customer Service makes Amazon appear as if they roll out the red carpet. Not a single agent has actually gone into the book and had a look, they simply give me steps I could find in the help section, even though I said that I tried the online options. It’s almost as if the Apple Books customer service operators don’t know their own product.
A Writing Update for Book Two
In July, I did twenty-seven hours and forty-five minutes of rewriting time spread across nine days. On these days, I wrote and revised the reunion dinner scene where each character interacts with the victim before they are murdered. After much deliberation, I decided that this scene was necessary because the reader needs to see the majority of the suspects interact with the victim to help with their sleuthing. Essentially, I want the reader to be trying to figure out who the killer is alongside James.
My writing progress for July.
Writing the Prologue Scenes
Before I write the prologue scene, I needed to do a lot of research. If this were the first draft, I would have just written the scene purely from my imagination, knowing I would need to rewrite it later. But, I no longer have the luxury of fast drafting. To write the scene, I needed to research medieval monasteries, monks, and religious manuscripts. At the end of that productive research session, I named the manuscript. The religious manuscript, it’s based on a real Commentary on Daniel by St Jerome, but I decided that this particular copy was a special illuminated edition with Initiums. A wealthy member of the community ordered the commentary.
On top of that, I found a real-life monastery that burned down in the late twelfth century. And that monastery was Glastonbury Abbey. For those of you who are curious, it was burned down in May 1184 and subsequently rebuilt and was later disbanded during Henry the eighth reformation, when all of the monasteries assets were handed over to the crown. At the time Glastonbury Abbey had a beautiful library which is now lost thanks to the fire and the reformation. Unfortunately, due to the Pandemic, I was unable to visit the Glastonbury Abbey ruins, and I missed out again when it reopened because I was a little too scared to go outside. But you can visit this historic site. I even got to watch a few clips of In the name of the Rose as “research” to help me get the description of the monastery interior correct.
Changing the Flow of the Story
Due to the addition of the prologue and reunion dinner scene to the story, the original chapter by chapter flow didn’t make sense. The story originally opened with the crime in progress then circled back to the events that took place two hours earlier. But with the prologue, it seemed like too much jumping around. Upon further reflection, I decided to move the scenes around so that my original chapter one is now chapter four, and chapters two and three are now, one and two.
Hopefully, that makes sense.
Tools I Used This Month
Here are a few blog posts and tools that I used to write and revise this month:
- 75 Words that Describe Smells
- 106 Ways to Describe Sounds
- Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language
- The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi *
Generating an Idea for Book Three
On Monday, the 27th of July, I decided that it would be best to start fleshing out the very brief idea that I had for the third book in the James Lalonde series. Back in February, I decided to add a third book between Duplicity and Immunity, before James officially moves to New York. For marketing purposes, I could sell Missing, Duplicity and book three as an ebook omnibus and paperback boxed set, as a teaser for the Byline series which features James Lalonde living in New York. In the original file for the idea, I estimated that the book would be another novella with a similar length to Missing.
But, I’m not great at writing short pieces, so it may end up being a short novel.
Issues with the Title
Currently, the story has a long title, and I’m not sure how it will fit on the cover of an ebook. And it’s not inline with the one-word title theme that I’ve set up for the series. But I like the long title. Despite my love of the first title, I need to come up with a new one.
The dice I rolled in the Rory’s Story Cubes app. I used the base game and the clues extension. And, I also have the physical dice as well.
Using Rory’s Story Cubes to Generate Story Ideas
I started by adding ideas for scenes and plot points to the initial premise of the book in Evernote. In order to help me generate ideas, I searched for writing prompts online. Eventually, I used Rory’s story cubes to inspire locations, literary devices, and plot points within the story; this is the second time I’ve used the cubes to help inspire a story. The first time was with the Candidate.
Rory’s Story Cubes comes as a base game with nine dice that you can use on its own. But I have a plethora of expansion packs. To add an expansion pack to the base game, you need to remove three random dice from the original and replace them with the expansion pack dice.
Interpreting the Dice
After rolling the dice, I then interpreted their meaning and how I could use this in the story. For example, out of the nine dice, three of them were a cell phone, a tree, and a file. With the cell phone, I decided that this represented an unexpected phone call. The dice with the tree reminded me of Hyde Park. Perhaps the reason behind that is pandemic related, and I used to work near Hyde Park, and I miss being able to walk around the park, or any park to be precise. Because I’m a mystery author, I decided that the file contained some top-secret information.
Putting those three dice together, I came up with this story idea.
James Lalonde receives an unexpected phone call while on a train between Oxford and London. The caller asks him to meet in Hyde Park, where he hands him a file. During the hand over the caller gets murdered by a person from a distance who uses a crossbow. As the drama unfolds and James attends to the murder victim, the file goes missing.
Ideas Lead to Other Ideas
Naturally, the other six dice helped contribute to the story, but I wanted to give you a quick example of how I used the dice to generate a story idea. If you would be interested in me going into greater detail about how I use the dice to create a story idea, let me know by commenting over on the blog or tweeting me at WriterADHay. After I finished interpreting all nine dice, I then fleshed out ideas that I got for the first four scenes of the story. These scene ideas naturally evolved, from me working with the dice. It’s a classic example of how ideas lead to other ideas.
Creating the Scrivener File
Next, I created a Scrivener file based on my own mystery novel template. As I was transferring the information from Evernote to Scrivener, I came up with a couple more ideas for other scenes that occur later on in the story. And, I decided to bring back another character from Missing, that James does not like, and force them to work together. To add an extra dimension of conflict. I need to put James in a position where he couldn’t walk away and let the police deal with it. He was now personally involved in the story. Moving forward, I plan on fleshing out the idea for book three into a fully developed storyline by the end of August.
Title Problem solved
A couple of days later, I created the ebook cover in Photoshop and shared it on Instagram. It was while I was creating the cover that I had an idea for the title, for book three. The new title is short, fits in with the series, and was from an idea generated by the cubes.
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 work on developing a writing habit and start working on 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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