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Authoring nuts & bolts Writing Advice Writing Life

A little book update with crunchy numbers


It’s hard to believe, but we’re coming up on bookbabys 1-month birthday! Time sure does fly. How are things going? Glad you asked!

Does it seem like book promotion, silly memes, & writing are all I ever post on social media these days?

First, The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday is my first new book release in 4 years, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that playing with the baby is my whole life right now.

Second, congrats, you’re among the approximately 15% of my following that sees book posts! I get better engagement on my lunch photos. (unless I mention books or writing in them.) I’ve been posting a lot of shared memes lately because I have a Facebook surfing problem, but after Sharp Edge’s one-month birthday, the apps will get deleted from my devices & I’ll take time offline except for some scheduled book posts.

Which is all to say, the evil Facebook algorithms will disappear me from your newsfeed entirely, unless you like & comment on whatever posts FB deigns to show you. Just saying.

I’m committed to doing the whole transparency thing about my publishing experience, so I’m about to throw numbers out there. Skip down to the cute red panda pic if you aren’t interested in nuts & bolts.

Sharp Edge out-performed all its predecessors by a 3x multiplier. 32 copies was my previous first-week release record for a new title. Sharp Edge came in at 110 copies. Is that good? That depends. For me? Absolutely yes!!! I’m over the moon ecstatic about achieving triple digits. But in a strictly commercial sense? It’s a non-starter.

But look. I didn’t expect to take the bestsellers list by storm. Do I wish everyone who read it was telling every other person they know to go buy & read it, in the kind of numbers that make a word-of-mouth bestseller? Hell, yes, of course I wish that. I HAVE BIG PIE-IN-THE-SKY DREAMS. But 2 decades of retail bookselling means I’ve always known the odds. Books sell when they get in front of a lot of eyeballs, getting books in front of people is a bear of a job, and I’m a bad bear wrestler.

I don’t have a large following either as an author or as a human being, this book has a good hook but no critical pick-it-up “wow” factor, and I didn’t go Amazon-exclusive & perform the pricing tricks necessary to attract the all-powerful algorithms. And live conventions haven’t been happening, so I couldn’t engage new readers that way.

True to my expectations, sales crashed after the first-week flurry, excepting a blip here & there on Amazon.

I don’t even know where most of the sold copies went. They aren’t showing up as scanned at bookstores, (yet?) and no one’s ‘fessed up to buying a bunch from Ingram just to make me happy. (Why would someone do that? How? I don’t know, ask my Impostor Syndrome, it’s the irrational little weasel who thinks up weird ideas like that.)

But I digress. That makes this a great spot for a word from our sponsors. Behold, my books!

The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday

Moms with superpowers making the military nervous.

Working mothers, radical teens, & cynical Marines team up to battle bureaucracy & bigotry. Also contains gardening tips, family secrets, carrots, kittens, and more. Ebook & Paperback

Rough Passages

Enter a world where every midlife crisis could cause a national disaster.

Where it all began: a novel in eight stories about five people whose lives are upended–for better or worse–when they receive mysterious new abilities. Ebook & paperback.

Back to the crunchy numbers & meandering prose…

Bookscan (a database that literally records how many copies of a book were scanned at participating bookstores) indicates my paperback sales have been overwhelmingly local, which not a huge surprise. It also shows sales in eleven states overall, and that’s both exciting and unprecedented.

Sharp Edge is still not in WorldCat, which is one of the bigger library cataloging databases, so I guess no libraries have picked it up yet. Or at least none who use WorldCat’s database (like my local ‘brar) Or it’s still in the acquisition process. Or something else I haven’t guessed. Basically, it’s early days and unknowns outnumber knowns. I’m gonna pretend lots of folks have recommended library purchases that haven’t gone through yet.

The review tally is stalled at 7 ratings on Amazon, 3 on Goodreads & 1 on B&N. Are those numbers good? Depends on perspective. The numbers are spectacular considering I did nothing to ensure that I came out of the gate with any at all.

In a perfect world, or a world where I had lots of extra silverware or the willingness to let go & hire someone to organize my life, I would have spent the months before opening up pre-orders lining up reviewers, scheduling interviews, readings, and pursuing many other marketing & promotional opportunities. Initial sales success is grounded in PRE-publication build up. And I didn’t do any of that. I didn’t give myself enough time.

Sharp Edge was long overdue already. I needed to get it out there in the world before something else horrible happened in the world or my personal life to delay it again. That was my choice, and I’m comfortable accepting the consequences.

My marketing efforts weren’t a total crash & burn. I lucked into a podcast interview and I was generously offered the chance to be featured at a local (online, thanks pandemic) reading series. And I might do more. Maybe a Goodreads giveaway or throw a copy up onto NetGalley. I could throw money at a Bookbub ad or try for the golden ring of a Bookbub promotion, even. Post new-release, return on investment isn’t historically good.

The reviews so far are all fair to glowing, which is gratifying and a huge relief. But it takes a LOT of ratings to make shoppers pause, especially when the ratings are all high. (Except with romance. With romance, the blurb is ALL) Sharp Edge has a long way to go before it hits the “Hm, other people appear to like this, I should take a look” tipping point.

Full disclosure, only 1 of my books has more than 20 reviews, and another is a romance. They’re also the only 2 titles I get occasional surprise sales on.

Photo by Ivan Cujic on Pexels.com

All done with numbers stuff.

Sharp Edge Of Yesterday is now heading into the big world of “it isn’t new anymore.” Before we go, I’d like to get in one last pitch to please review it if you’ve read it, even if you thought the book was meh, maybe especially then.

The more reviews & word-of-mouth interest Sharp Edge gets, the better it will do long term. Reviews raise the visibility of the book and legitimize it in the eyes of potential readers. Goodreads or other places that let you post “want-to-reads” and “reading” flags–those are the online version of “word of mouth” and they’re platinum.

Every mention by people other than me helps. The more the merrier, the more the better. Not just online. Real world. That advice, if it’s advice, goes for all your favorite authors. If you love someone’s writing, put a ring on it tell friends, tell family, tell perfect strangers.

And on that note, in the next post, I’ll make mention of all the great books I’ve been reading lately.

Until later!

Categories
Authoring Promotion Writing Life

Day of Twos, now with twice the gratitude

We are are launch plus two weeks & two days since The Sharp Edge of Yesterday released, and it has TWO 5-star ratings on Amazon now! It may have had the second one for a while, but there’s no review with it, so I didn’t see an alert. That may be small potaotes in the the greater world of publishing, even for indie authors, but hey, I knew my audience reach would be tiny from the get-go. Two ratings is a third of the way to the lifetime total for some of my other books.

Today also a BIG THANKS day to the folks who’ve finished the book already & reached out to say they loved it. (or enjoyed it, or at least were satisfied by it.)

Positive feedback does soothe my constantly-jangling “BUT WHAT IF NO ONE LOVES IT LIKE I DO?” nerves. I don’t doubt the quality of my writing. I don’t doubt its appeal as a general concept. But no story is ever fully complete without an audience, and I have no way of gauging whether a given story will touch many hearts, or only mine.

Fun fact 1: writers do not know if you’ve read their works unless you tell them. That’s one of the emotional reasons reviews are important. A sentence or two like, “I loved the banter and the descriptions,” or “some of the scenes made me really laugh” are more than marketing tools. They’re replies to the message in a bottle that we set drifting away from our little isolated islands.

Fun Fact 2: in my case, if you do not bring up the fact that you’ve read my writing, I will never ask. Even if you told me you planned to read a thing, I don’t remember. My brain is a sieve. Not a joke. Even if you’ve told me (multiple times) that you’ve read ALL my work and love all my characters, unless we are in regular communication about writing, and/or you’ve been a beta reader for me, I WILL forget between interactions.

I can apologize for that all day long, because it’s probably hurtful, but I can’t change my brain, and my brain capacity for “who’s read my books?” is a constantly shifting list of about two dozen people. It’s like I can juggle

How bad is it? Welp, I forgot Spouseman had read Weaving In the Ends, and I’m married to him

One small fringe benefit: my memory issue gives everyone in my life the easiest of easy outs for avoiding book-related social awkwardness.

I hope everyone I know is reading my books. I hope you love them. BUT. There will be no quiz, no assigned book report, no interrogation. While I do absolutely love to gush over my stories with readers, no matter how much I am bursting to talk about the fabulous things my characters do, to discuss the deeper themes, and the direction the series is going… I won’t start those conversations.

People seem to think I’m going to ask, “Have you read my new book” or “How did you like my book?” because they preemptively inform me that they are going to read one, or offer me excuses for not finishing one they told me they were going to read.

I won’t ask. Ever. Those are two of the the most painfully awkward questions imaginable. Forcing people to make excuses or find something Painfully Positive & Reassuring like “it was interesting, but I’m just so busy right now” or “it didn’t grab me, but it was well written,” is about as appealing as stabbing myself in the eyeballs.

No, thank you. Stilted, forced compliments might as well be gut punches to people have rejection sensitivity issues (THANKS FOR NOTHING, ADHD) And the idea of pushing someone into promising a read out of social guilt makes me feel filthy.

ANYway. I loathe making people feel cornered, so I won’t do it. If someone has DNF’d (did not finish) a book of mine or was totally unimpressed, that’s their business and none of mine. No book is right for everyone, and no one should dhave to feel like they need to justify their reading or non-reading. Period. No need to apologize for not reading my books or for not liking them. It’s easy to let forgotten dogs lie, so to speak.

If you’re planning to read Sharp Edge or any of my other books, I am ecstatic for you. I write fantastic books. They will give you Big Feels and make you ponder important Life Stuff. I want the whole WORLD to

And if you want to talk, hit me up.

All that, in summary, is why I am so wildly, gloriously grateful to everyone who does reach out to share moments of squee or tidbits of joy re:my books. Every share is a fresh, lovely surprise and a big boost to my confidence. I truly am thankful for all my readers & love you all.

Even if I don’t remember the specifics for long.

And that’s all until later, except for the wrap-up ads. (buy my wonderful books, join the Exclusive Good Stuff mailing list, etc, etc.)

The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday

Moms with superpowers making the military nervous.

Working mothers, radical teens, & cynical Marines team up to battle bureaucracy & bigotry. Also contains gardening tips, family secrets, carrots, kittens, and more. Ebook & Paperback

Rough Passages

Enter a world where every midlife crisis could cause a national disaster.

Where it all began: a novel in eight stories about five people whose lives are upended–for better or worse–when they receive mysterious new abilities. Ebook & paperback.

Two of everything means twice the random cats.
Photo by Aleksandr Nadyojin on Pexels.com