Things around here are the same. I had a good Thanksgiving with my kids, sister, and ex-husband. The turkey came out well (which is always a gamble for me as I tend to over cook), all the sides were good, and I only peeled a little skin off my finger when I was peeling potatoes. The questions when we played Trivial Pursuit weren’t even that difficult, and though my sister won both times like she normally does, I didn’t feel stupid (like I normally do) so that was a win for me all by itself. I started editing for a friend of mine, and I’m excited to read something different for a change and keep my editing skills sharp. It’s been a long time since I’ve edited for someone and it’s a fun break from my own book. I’m 28k into my new WIP and I think at this point I have all the bits and pieces I need to finish it. I don’t know how long it’s going to be–I have a list of the plot points I haven’t hit yet, so I’m guessing I’ll need at least another 50k words before it’s done. Still no idea what I’m going to do with it, but I may just hire a proofer and publish it when it’s ready. I bought a 2023 calendar to keep track of all my releases and promo dates, and I’m going to force myself to use it next year. I always buy a cute planner (last year I even bought a calendar blotter though I have no idea why because the only desk I have is for work and I don’t write there) that I ignore, but I’m going to try my best to make 2023 more professional for me and my books.
I have this calendar for 2022, but I changed my release plan for several of my books, and didn’t end up using it. I wrote and packaged a duet and a trilogy instead and that used up a lot of this year. 2023 is a big year for me and I’ll be releasing quite a few books. My co-worker isn’t reading my series (she prefers watching Netflix and watching TikTok videos, SMH), so I’ll have to ask for those proofs back and figure something else out. I really wanted to have a second set of eyes on these, but even a proofreader at $70/ book (which totally isn’t bad for a proofreader, honestly) would still cost me almost 500 dollars for all six. It’s tough, it really is, and the last thing I want to do is read them again, but I may not have a choice. This series will butter my bread if they take off, and I want them perfect before I publish them.
Anyway, so one thing at a time, and I’m looking forward to publishing my trilogy in January. There doesn’t seem to be anything getting in the way of that, and I’m proud of these books so I won’t be pushing them back for any reason (unlike my series because they don’t feel ready and I don’t feel ready). What will come after them remains to be seen as I have a standalone ready to publish, but by then I might just do my rockstar romance and then figure out what I want to publish in the summer. Choices, choices, but it’s a good problem to have.
Saturday I got caught up in a squabble on Twitter about giveaways, and not to my surprise, she blocked me. It’s fine. What I said, and what I will stick to, is if your giveaway isn’t doing what you want–new readers, read-through, whatever the case may be as to why you hosted a giveaway, fix your book. Fix your cover, fix the copy that you used with the giveaway, fix your blurb (anywhere, everywhere), fix the look inside. What ruffled her feathers was when I said, free junk is still junk. She said it was harsh, but so what if it is? I’ve been on Twitter for a long time. A long time, and the most common theme that I’ve run into is when people complain their books don’t sell, but are unwilling to take advice on why. If I say I don’t like your cover because I don’t think it will meet reader expectations, I’m not insulting you. I WANT your book to sell. And YOU want your book to sell or you wouldn’t be asking for feedback. Anytime someone blocks me, my feelings are hurt, and I don’t like hurting other people’s feelings. The fact is though, I should stop offering my opinion. People truly don’t want it. Especially when they’ve already gotten ten tweets saying how wonderful their Canva cover is and I’m the only one who says it looks terrible and maybe you should be studying the Amazon top 100 in your genre to figure out where you went wrong. Staying in my own lane has always been difficult, but think of how much time I would have if I stayed off Twitter. My self-esteem levels would probably increase, considering there isn’t a week that goes by where someone doesn’t tell me, “Thanks for your input but fuck off. I like my cover how it is.” But I get the last laugh when a month later they’re complaining because their book didn’t take off like they wanted it to. Shrug. It is a pretty crappy merry-go-round that I’ve hitched myself to, an addiction that needs to be broken. That could be one of my 2023 New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never stayed where I’m not wanted, and that goes for friendships and romantic relationships as well.
If you’re thinking about a giveaway, I have some quick thoughts to make your giveaway go as smoothly as possible and hopefully you get out of it what you want.
Fix your book before your giveaway. When I did my promo for His Frozen Heart, I fixed the back matter of all four books, changed the covers back how they were before Amazon suspended my ads, edited the look insides of all of them and made sure the blurbs still held up. This is really important. If you’re buying a spot on in a Freebooksy promo or you were approved for a Bookbub Featured Deal, your book is still going to compete with other books. True, some readers load up their e-readers with every free book they come across, but if your book has a fabulous cover and a hooky blurb, readers may read your book first and if your book is solid, you may have found a life-long fan of your work. These were all the free books on November 17th when I ran my promo. Your book has to compete with others’. There is no getting around it. https://www.freebooksy.com/?s=november+17
Know why you’re giving your book away. This, too, is important or you’ll only disappointed yourself after the fact. As my friend Jeanne and I were talking about couple days ago, ROI doesn’t always mean sales. ROI could be exposure, a borrow though Kindle Unlimited, a newsletter sign up, or read-through to the next book, either through a sale or a borrow. I didn’t have a plan when I bought my Freebooksy for His Frozen Heart, and because I didn’t have a plan, my results weren’t optimal. I wanted to give it away because it’s the closest thing to a holiday novel I have, and it’s nearing Christmas. I wanted to give it away because I hadn’t done a promo for that series for a long time. But, I also don’t have plans to write 3rd person under that name anymore, so I wasn’t giving a book away to build that author name, and if you aren’t using your cement blocks to build a foundation, you’re wasting concrete.
Have realistic expectations. The woman arguing with me asked me if I saw immediate sales after my promo. I gave away 2,000 copies of His Frozen Heart, and in her mind, I should have sold 2,000 copies of other books to make up for that. It doesn’t work that way. Yes, I got read-through, and I have still gotten read-through of my other three books and will continue for a bit though those sales are trickling in now. I may not earn back my fee this month (I still stand a chance of that before the end of the year), and that’s fine. People need time to read and the holidays are busy. Some people may not have liked the first book and won’t read the others. That’s a risk when you publish any book. You can’t be all things to all people.
Ask yourself if this is the right time to do a giveaway or other promo. I was listening to Zoe York in a Clubhouse room and she said try to do some kind of promo every three months to keep sales moving. I agree and I’ve fallen dismally behind in that regard because I’ve been too busy writing to think about my backlist. Once I settle into my pen name, all my momentum going forward will be for those books, and like a car going down a steep hill, I hope I can keep up the speed even if my foot is off the gas. I said in my last blog post that had I really been thinking overall about my business, I shouldn’t have paid for that promo, and it’s still true. I should have saved that money to push my 1st person books next year. Now I have to take that loss. I spent $115.00 on the Freebooksy spot and as of this writing have spent $8.97 on Amazon ads for the month of November. I’ve only made $83.97 this month which puts me in hole $40.00. (Because of all the extras I pay for throughout the year, I’ve only finished out a couple of years in the black, so that’s the overall state of my publishing career up until now. It’s not a surprise though, and something I’m
obviously trying to change.)
If you don’t want to give a book away, don’t. I’m not your mom telling you what to do. Return on investment will be different for everyone, but the main reason I see for authors not wanting to give their book away is because they think they should be paid for their time and what they think they are worth. It’s true that some people value the things they have to pay for, on the other hand, COVID is still a thing, there’s over six million people who are unemployed in the United States, and people are struggling to buy food and pay their rent. As someone who is fortunate enough to have a little money for ads but still stresses about monthly bills, I understand both sides. Yes, I want to be paid for all the work I put into my books, but I also pay for a KU subscription because I couldn’t read as much as I want without it–especially the indie authors who aren’t in libraries. So undersand that if you, under no circumstances, are never going to give your book away, you are limiting yourself to readers who can afford to pay for every book you publish. If you’re asking 4.99/book and you’re selling a 6 book series, that’s $30.00; not a little sum to many people. Wide authors can be extremely successful, but they do run promos on book ones all the time to draw in new readers. If you don’t want to do that, that’s a business decision that only you can make for yourself and your books.
Free trash is still trash, and if you can’t judge your product with honest skepticism, I can’t help you. Maybe my words were harsh, but I don’t think she needed to block me. Mute me if she didn’t want to hear my opinions anymore–we weren’t following each other, I would have disappeared from her Twitter feed forever. I rubbed her the wrong way, and maybe one day she’ll change her mind and think giveaways are the best marketing strategy for her books. I can’t say it doesn’t bother me because it hurts to be shunned for your beliefs and maybe I’m too thin-skinned for Twitter (or to acerbic for my followers which is probably closer to the truth). Honestly though, I need to keep my nose out of people’s business and actually stop trying to help people. It will save me a lot of hurt, and people are going to do what they want regardless of what my opinions are. We’re all struggling against the stigma of indie publishing, and you’d think people would try to do their very best to fight against it, instead they do what they want and just validate those people who think indies are trash. It is what it is. As one of my friends likes to say, not my circus not my monkeys, but I sure do like to buy tickets.
Thanks for reading! I hope you have a wonderful rest of the month!