BTS052, I Screwed Up My Series and Reaching a New Level of Appreciation for Draft2Digital
Welcome to the ninety-ninth episode of the Authorpreneur Podcast. Yes, I’m doing the countdown thing—I know, it’s super dorky, but I’m embracing it anyway. At present, I’m struggling to sell book two in my amateur sleuth mystery series, and I’m going into detail about my experiments to get this bookselling and my issues with publishing direct to Barnes and Noble upon the advice of going wide webinar.
Let’s just say that I regret leaving Draft 2 Digital.
And I discuss how I’ve screwed up my amateur sleuth mystery series. Just saying that out loud gives me anxiety.
But without further ado, let’s get on with the episode.
About the Episode
Just to let you know, this episode was recorded on Tuesday, the 25th of April, so this show is primarily me looking back at March and April 2023. And, if you’re new to this podcast, I want to say a huge thank you for stopping by and trying out my show. To those of you who have been faithfully listening, thank you for regularly listening in and supporting me; your support means more to me than you know.
What I’ve Been Doing Since the Last Episode
A few fascinating things happened this month that got in the way of me recording a few podcast episodes. The first was my husband was sick and worked from home for a while. And I felt a little bad, saying, “Hey, babe, can you die a little quieter, so I can record my podcast.” There is a confidential element to his work as well, so I had to wait for his working-from-home period to end so that I could get back to podcasting.
At the same time, I was struggling with my mental health, and I had a health issue of my own. My health issues started during the locked down, and I haven’t been the same since. If I’m super honest, I’ve become a hermit, and that has consequences.
My Health Issues and Podcasting
Sorry, but this is going to get a little TMI.
I have uterine fibroids. In a nutshell, I’m constantly bleeding and have trouble differentiating between fibroid-related bleeding and my period. At times, it can be hard for me to do all the things I want because I feel tired, and it can be difficult to concentrate. It’s not as bad as it sounds, but the first three weeks in April were a little wild for me.
Proofreading the Locked Room
At the start of April, as I got back into the rhythm of writing book three, The Locked Room moved up in the queue and became available for proofreading. So, put the writing of book three on pause to work on these edits and publish the novella. The one thing I have noticed about the editing process is I’m no longer just blindly accepting the edits, and I’ve started rejecting a small portion of them because I want the narrative to sound a certain way when it’s read aloud. I discovered this issue while reading The Candidate aloud on my YouTube channel.
At times, I felt that my editor didn’t get that narrative is from the character’s point of view and therefore is opinion based. And often, I was pushed to explain how a character knows something. For instance, in one scene, James describes the curtain’s material as “thick, heavy, red drapes”, so my editor writes me a note wanting to know how he knows the curtains are heavy. And, I’m thinking, who cares about the drapes—this is his opinion on the drapes. So, she changed the wording from “heavy” to “heavy-looking.” After that change, the sentence just sounded clunky and was better without the word looking.
There was also another moment where he thinks another character’s workout gear is made from a sweat-resistant material, and again the editor wanted to know how he knew this. Once again, this is his opinion on the character’s clothing—it’s not fact. And I should have to stop the narrative to explain to the reader that he knows this because he’s seen the material before or he’s touched other thick, heavy fabrics—pointing stuff like this out is not important to the story, it just his opinion on the setting and events.
Should I Move on?
I don’t know if this is a sign that I need to find a new editor or if this is just what the editing process is like. But I’m starting to feel frustrated by the experience.
Struggling to Sell Book Two in a Series
So, I’ve been struggling to give away book two in my amateur sleuth mystery series. However, giving away book one is easy because it’s free.
And that information should be of no surprise because “who doesn’t love a freebie?” It’s important to note that there’s no hook at the end of book one that points the reader to book two. This leads me to ask an important question.
Am I expecting too much at this stage?
The truth is, discoverability is low at this stage of my career because I only have five published works one is a stand-alone, one is a prequel short story, another is the first in a series, and the other two books are a part of the same series. This is having an impact on my book sales. I’m guessing that if I had five books in the same series, then my sales would be a little different.
So, I guess this is the curse of writing multiple series at once.
While I was contemplating the lack of sales on book two, I had an epiphany. I realised that the price of the second book might be too high considering the first is free. So, I changed the price of book two from US$3.99 to 99¢ This tactic seems to be working well on Amazon, but it’s too soon to say. However, nothing seems to move the needle for me on Kobo, certainly not Facebook Ads.
Publishing Direct to Barnes and Noble
So, I tried to publish all of my five books directly to Barnes and Noble but came up with issues in regard to taxation. In a nutshell, Barnes and Noble were determined to tax me at a thirty percent withholding rate, even in spite of the treaty that exists between the IRS and the United Kingdom and other countries. Even though they are open to publishing authors from other countries, they have no idea what they are doing. So, I pulled my books from Barnes & Noble and went back to distribute them via Draft 2 Digital.
Going direct is not worth the hassle of being unnecessarily taxed so I can have access to the secret categories, and the so-called promotions tab isn’t that impressive—the Kobo promotions tab is better. I know this is brutal, but I’m being honest. However, I did speak with the support staff before going back to Draft2Digital, but I’m still yet to hear back from the support staff after my second attempt to contact them. By the way, I filled out the W8-N form correctly as per all the other forms I filled out on Google Play, Amazon, Apple, Draft2Digital, and Kobo
So, it’s definitely not me.
I’ve Screwed Up My Mystery Series
Towards the end of February, I started writing book three in the James Lalonde amateur sleuth mystery series into the dark. So far, I’ve written 8,275 words. I’ve been writing this book on and off between working with my editor on the Locked Room and publishing tasks. And it’s been an enjoyable experience.
However, in April, I hit a wall in my writing process after realising that this third book is technically not a mystery because the whodunnit is known from the start for several reasons. The first is because I’ve written scenes from the killer’s point of view, and their identity is known. And secondly, there is a subtle reference to this person in the second book. So, technically I’m breaking the rules of the genre and not delivering on the promise of the whodunnit—it’s a thriller, and so is book four.
Now I feel trapped and have no idea what to do or even how to change my story, so it’s more of a mystery. Although, I could introduce another “potential villain” to create the scene of a mystery so the reader doesn’t know the whodunnit. If you have any thoughts on my dilemma, feel free to email me via my contact page or leave your thoughts in the comments section.
While I was filming and recording the two versions of this podcast episode, I made a Google search and learned that I’m writing an inverted detective story or a howcatchem and not a thriller. That discovery was a huge relief. So, I’m still considering adding a second potential villain as well as leaning into this howcatchem. Storyline. But this inverted detective story isn’t hugely popular in the genre. So, I’m still interested in hearing your thoughts about whether I’m breaking the rules of the mystery genre.
Add More Depth to Entitled to Murder
While I was feeling stuck with book three in the James Lalonde Mystery series, I opened up my unfinished cozy mystery and started working on that novella again. Just a side note, this switching between stories happened before I realised why I was stuck with book three.
Now back to the cozy mystery.
I added more depth to the narrative point of view in the first chapter in order to establish a connection between the reader and the protagonist. But I hit another brick wall when I realised that my main character was a grieving widow in desperate need of a fresh start. And I wondered whether this character suited the cozy mystery genre because the stories are supposed to be light and fluffy, not dark.
Actually, I should point out that the story is by no means dark, but she is sad that her husband is gone—she misses him. So, now I’m stuck writing two novels.
And I’m not going to start a third manuscript.
So, that’s all of the things that I can discuss in terms of writing, editing, book marketing, and publishing. Now, I have an important question to ask you. Are you a UK author who has experienced those taxation issues with Barnes & Noble, or have you skipped this trauma altogether and published with Draft2Digital? Come on over to the blog post and share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.
And, while I have this thought, the one-hundredth episode is coming up, and I thought it might be nice to do a celebratory Ask Me Anything session, so come on over to this page and submit a question for me to answer on the show.
The next episode of the podcast will be the bonus milestone episode, and then after that, I will release another episode where I will discuss the anatomy of a scene.
Thank you for listening, and happy reading and writing, everybody.
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I’m Amelia. When I’m not hosting the Authorpreneur Podcast™️ and the Book Nerd Podcasts, I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Suspicion, the Lawn, and the Candidate.
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, Suspicion, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.