Thursday (and Friday!) Musings and Where I’m at Right Now

Let passion be your muse. 
Let her guide and teach you to trust your instincts.

Sarah Ban Breathnach

I was supposed to post this yesterday, but my muse wouldn’t let me go. After writing 5,000 words, going to the grocery store, making dinner, and helping my daughter with a cooking class project (not to mention working my normal shift), I was wiped. Luckily my thoughts (even though I’m a Sagittarius and we’re famous for contradicting ourselves) haven’t changed from yesterday to today.

I hope you all have a wonderful and productive weekend and thanks for reading!

A couple weeks ago I tried to put up more ads for His Frozen Heart thinking that if I could nudge that first in series along, I could get some more read-through. But it seems like nothing I do for ads for that book will take off. I upped my bids a little, but still nothing. And to make matters worse, whoever looked at one of my ads decided the cover was too racy and emailed me saying the cover goes against Amazon’s creative guidelines and blocked the ad. That’s ridiculous because I’ve been running ads for that book for months, and this is the first time the cover has been rejected. It doesn’t matter–I can’t get any of my ads for that book to “turn on” anyway, and I get very few impressions and zero clicks. I’ve done everything right for that book/series–I used the right keywords when I published, I emailed Amazon and asked to be put in more categories, so my categories are set. I just have no idea what I can do to make any of my ads for that book take off. It’s not the cover–I can’t get Amazon to even show my ad, so it’s not like I’m wasting money on clicks and not getting any sales. I can work with that. I’m at a loss, but I’ll keep experimenting and submitting new ads.

Amazon can’t get too picky with romance covers, or romance authors will stop using Amazon Advertising. The amount of skin on a cover tells readers how much steam to expect in the story, and if we all start clothing our couples to meet Amazon’s guidelines, we’ll start making our readers very unhappy. Amazon better ease up on their restrictions, or more authors will start using FB and BookBub ads.

As far as ads go, I didn’t do too terribly in September, but I did shut my ads off for a couple of weeks, and you can tell when I did it:

I had a pretty significant decrease toward the end of the month, but I came out ahead, which is all that matters to me right now. I’m still waiting to be reimbursed for my August spend–$400.00 roughly, with my August royalties–$500 roughly, so I’m not out that money. Here’s my September ad spend:

At the end of the month I turned on my two auto placement ads for The Years Between Us and All of Nothing and started getting sales again. It’s crazy how you can measure sales with ads. Ads can work, I just wish I could get a couple good ads going for His Frozen Heart. Since my July Freebooksy, my read-through is only so-so. Here are my royalties for September:

Read-through drops off a little more than I’d like, but readers getting through all four is pretty exciting for me considering when I released book one, I didn’t get very good reviews at all.

All I can do is keep plugging away and see what happens.

As far as an update for the series I’m writing now, I’m 86k into the last book. I’ve been working on this series for eight months, and it will be bittersweet to finish them. I will still have plenty of editing to do, but it will be sad to say goodbye to these couples, even if I am excited to write something new. I have an idea for an novella/shorter novel that I want to use as a reader magnet and in the coming months I’m going to learn how to use StoryOrigin for promos and I’m going to figure out how to use my MailerLite account and finally get my newsletter up and going.

One of the things that has bothered me in the past couple of days is authors who don’t want to do the work. I’ve run into two examples where authors don’t want to bother to learn. One was asking book cover techniques to update her books, and when a couple of us replied, all she said was, “I”m going to go the Fiverr route.” This ticked me off for two reasons: One, if you’re going to ask for advice, realize that you are asking someone to give you their time. Maybe it only takes a couple minutes for someone to type out a response, but still, people are taking time out of their day and writing schedules to answer your question, and two, if you don’t want to learn how to do it yourself, then why bother to ask? I get not everyone wants to put time into learning how to do book covers, and I even admit that my sales might be better if I had professional covers on my books. But we all know it’s a chicken and an egg conundrum, just like with most things that are indie. You can’t sell books without a good cover, but you can’t afford a good cover until you’ve sold some books. Unless you have seed money to invest in your business before you start out, most indies can only afford the bare minimum, and some need to choose between editing and covers. So fine, hire someone on Fiverr. I hope you choose someone reputable, because that place is just a haven for scammers, and make sure you ask your artist where they got the stock photos and fonts from. Protect yourself because if they use elements that aren’t theirs to use, it won’t be on them, it will be on you for publishing.

Another example that made me mad was a poster asking about StoryOrigin. I signed up because the creator said at some point he was going to make his site pay to play, so sign up to be grandfathered into the site whenever that happens. I haven’t used the features on there yet because I don’t have a newsletter, which is primarily what the site is good for–joining newsletter promotions and giving away a reader magnet. The site is a bit overwhelming, which is where the poster was stonewalled. But the thing is, StoryOrigin, just like most websites with lots of features, has tutorials. All you need is to sit down and take a bit of time to learn. When I pointed this out, all she said was, “I know, but I think I’ll hire that out.” Meaning, she’d rather hire a virtual assistant than take the time to learn how the website works.

[The Six Figure Authors podcast interviewed Evan Gow, the creator of StoryOrigin, and you can listen to it here if you’re interested.]

Again, this ticked me off because why post about it if you already know the route you’re going to take, and why wouldn’t you want to learn how to work that website? It can only benefit you years down the road, and you’ll get to know the authors in your genre who use the site regularly. It’s a win-win situation for you to do the work yourself.

I understand the frustration at being an indie these days, and I know a couple authors who don’t want to jump through the hoops and have, actually, dropped out of the writing community. I was one of those authors for a long time (though I never dropped out, just stubbornly writing away and not doing anything else), thinking that if I have to more than write and publish books, I didn’t want to bother. But in the end you have to decide if you want to play the game, and how much your sales and potential writing career mean to you.

Saving time is always a bonus, and if you can afford to buy some premades for book covers, or hire someone with a good reputation on Fiverr, then you should do that. I lean that way all the time, even going so far as to look up premades, but I always end up balking. My real life expenses like groceries, car payment, rent, and electricity bill will always have to take precedence over what I want to do with my writing career, such as it is.

That sucks, because I’m not the only one in this situation. Would my books sell better if they were professionally edited, had professional covers, there’s no doubt that they would. But how long would it take to recoup my losses? Especially since you don’t know if what you’re writing is going to sell in the first place. You want to put out a professional product, but if you’re not willing to do the product research to see if your book is going to have readers, everything you do after could be a big waste of time and money. Even my books under the Contemporary Romance umbrella haven’t hit the mark because I haven’t focused on one area. It took me three years to realize that sub-genre-hopping wasn’t going to make me the career Nora Roberts has. Publishing is a different time now. So I’m going to shift my focus and see if I can make headway writing something else, but that I still enjoy.

Anyway, as I edit my series and learn all the things I should have learned three years ago, I’ll take you with me. It’s always fun making mistakes and hopefully if you follow along, you won’t make mine!

I’ll end this blog post with a concept for the covers I’m thinking about for the first three books in my series. It’s a rough draft of the cover for book one. The couple isn’t finalized (hence the watermarks), and I’m going to look at adding a logo for the series and also I need to fit in the series name. I’m trying to go with what’s popular right now (though that could change by the time the books are edited and ready for publication), and the covers I like on the premade sites I can’t afford.

I’ll write other blog posts about my editing, covers, and formatting journey, and feel free to let me know what you think!

Until next time!

3 thoughts on “Thursday (and Friday!) Musings and Where I’m at Right Now

  1. I don’t put in a lot of money and energy into marketing for a lot of different reasons. But I’m learning slowly – trying each technique from whichever sources I can afford to look into, using my debut (the one and only) to experiment with, before I can start publishing again. I’m financially constrained to try Amazon Ads (especially since I can’t even put those ads in my country), so I’m trying alternative ways and social media.

    When I got into self-publishing, I already knew how difficult marketing was going to be, but got in anyway. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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