Categories
Writing Life

Launch Week Feels, or, I am a sea turtle

The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday dropped this week, and you all know what that means!

…or maybe you don’t. I am so steeped in the daily minutia of writing and publishing that I sometimes lose sight of an important fact: most of the world does not revolve around the creation & publication of speculative fiction books.

It means:

  • if you bought Sharp Edge in ebook, it’s waiting for you to read it RIGHT NOW!
  • if you ordered a paperback, it should be arriving really soon (I think?)
  • if you read Sharp Edge of Yesterday before release, or have miraculously finished it already, you can now post reviews to Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, or wherever. Not that reviews are life for new books or anything, NO WAIT YES REVIEWS ARE VITAL.
  • if you take pics of your copy of Sharp Edge, I would love for you to please, please share online! I adore seeing pics of my bookbabies thriving in the wild.

It means a lot to me, and, I hope, to others. Sharp Edge is a Real Book Forever ™ now. The week’s been hectic. Best release by far for me. Tuesday was amazing. Meanwhile, for Spouseman, Tuesday was a supremely awful whopper of a bad day. (Nothing permanent or professional, just a SOMETIMES LIFE SUCKS bunch of things coming down at once like a load of bricks.)

Proof the universe leans toward balance, I suppose. But we got through it, and here it is, DAY THREE of Sharp Edge’s life.

Professionally speaking, I should be doing author interviews, readings, release parties, blog hops and generally putting my book out there to Be seen. Realistically, I should have been scheduling such things and recruiting reviewers for months now, so I could take advantage of promotional opportunities that come along only when a book is new-new-new. I should have lined up the book equivalent of playdates and tutoring sessions and all manner of success-building activities.

(Spoiler alert: I do none of those things unless they figuratively fall into my lap.)

Marketing is vital to a book’s financial, commercial “look-it-shiny” survival. But, um. I’m not doing much.

Look. I am not a nurturing, watchful, energetic book mom who can boost her child’s development with every possible enrichment and trumpets its accomplishments to all & sundry. I’m just not able to do that. Kudos to all who can. I salute you.

This new book of mine–about midlife superpowers and the people wrestling with them–it’s a great read. It’s wondrous. I love it enough that I’ve spent tens of thousands of hours with it. It’s a thought-provoking yet entertaining, ride of a story. But…

I am more like a sea turtle mom than a tiger mom. With the help of many others, I invested time, energy, and all my love and substance into my book’s creation. Once the book is uploaded and ready to go (carefully buried in the sand to mature until hatching day) my every instinct urges me to crawl back into the sea to seek out new adventures.

It’s just barely possible for me to keep watch over the nest until hatching day, so to speak. I stick with it. I make sure no one steps on my eggs, nothing bad happens to them, that conditions stay perfect for release. But when it’s done, it’s done.

The Sharp Edge of Yesterday has hatched out of the sand, and it’s headed for the ocean on its own, to sink or swim or be eaten by gulls.

The analogy kinda breaks down because of COURSE I’m still watching over my book, and I VERY MUCH WANT IT TO SUCCEED because it’s an incredible story worth telling & reading…but as far as the Constant Care And Presentation Activities For Success part? Not going to happen.

On any given day, I can choose to write posts online and talk to people about books, or I can write creatively. I cannot do both. No amount of “be proud, self-promote” advice and encouragement can make the work anything but physically exhausting and emotionally taxing to the point of turning my brain to mush.

To keep getting sales I have to keep posting to social media multiple times daily and pursue other marketing possibilities, which means corresponding and interacting with people. And that isn’t going to happen. Not the way it has to be done to drive sales.

Sharp Edge is off to a grand start. A phenomenally successful start. I had opening-day sales, even. (That was my main fear–that no one would want it once it WAS available. But a paperback and a couple more kindle copies sold, so YAY! There’s interest.)

But now…I’m done with it for a bit. Sure, regular reminders will go onto social media for a couple of weeks, but I’m giving myself more and more slack to just…write what I want, where I want it. Like, oh, here.


….For those who like numbers, here’s some full transparency for ya. Sharp Edge on Kindle popped at rank 30,000-something in the whole store, which is the highest any book has debuted for me. (It’s plummeted way down already, but hey. Highest ever. I’ll take it, thank you, Kindle readers!)

On the print side, Ingram tells me 50 pre-ordered paperbacks are going somewhere, and that is a BOGGLING record for single-day sales for any of my titles ever, even without the qualifier of “release day.” (Again, record so far. Never say I lack ambition. I mean, I do lack it, but I still have GOALS. ANYway. Digression achieved!)

I won’t have other ebook numbers for weeks yet, and Kindle is usually king tbh, so I’ll count anything I get there as happy frosting on the happy cake. Mmm, cake.


Until later!

Mmm, cake w/sprinkles!
(cake doughnuts anyhow)

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Categories
Authoring Promotion Writing Life

Life notes & book numbers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Post Daylights Saving Monday is Monday-est Monday of the Year.

Admitting I cannot brain is hard, but I am beating back the gnawing be-productive weasels with mentally forgiving tasks. So far, so good. Fresh foods arrived before the storm & have been stowed away, three loads of laundry are done, and two more loads are sorted and ready. Pantry dinner is prepped, sheets are changed, bills paid, and correspondence sorted out.

Still to do: do my daily online promotion for Sharp Edge Of Yesterday, and enjoying some downtime with Ghost Town. Yes, the writing time is a reward, not a task. It’s a mindset I’m trying to nurture.

BUT FIRST! A “THANK YOU!” shoutout to everyone whose pre-orders have put Sharp Edge within 3 spots of first place in my personal ranking (not comparing to others because that would be depressing.) Posting promotions for it online is hard work that uses up writing brainspace. It’s satisfying when effortful cause leads to desired effect.

Oh! And speaking of the pre-orders, let me share some numbers. I like it when authors are transparent about such things. Disclaimers ahead of time: everyone’s experience is different. I don’t have a large audience. My writing seems to attract devoted fans, in that if you like any one of my books, you end up hunting down and enjoying all of them, but you folx are still an elite cadre, not a market-swaying population segment.

It’s a bigger audience than I ever thought to have when I started this gig, I admit. My flavor of impostor syndrome means I suspect innocent people of pity purchases (sorry) but this time I’m pretty confident most of these orders are going to people who want to read the book, not just support a friend by buying something they would never read on its own merits in a million years. But I digress. (It wouldn’t be a post by me if I didn’t. At least you know I’m not a pod person!)

The raw numbers:
Rough Passages, current pre-order champion, 32 pre-orders.
Sharp Edge Of Yesterday, 29 pre-orders as of today. With one week left to go.

And now, some data analysis & background because that makes this like a science report, and we all know those are FUN, right?

I did a massive promotional push for Rough Passages‘ release back in 2017. At the time I was active in a lot of Facebook groups and the general “writing community” online as part of my “Learning to Be An Independent Author” phase. I told all the people in all the groups where I was active about the book & why it was wonderful. I posted notes and snippets and pictures in my own online spaces. I told people IRL and asked for online support. I set the introductory pre-order price at a low-risk investment of $0.99. I did multiple reminders per day for weeks.

I was thrilled to get 32 pre-orders. It’s peanuts to authors who make a living from wordcraft, but it was twice the orders I’d gotten for a previous, similar release. Return On Investment was great if I only looked at the number.

ROI was abysmal when I added in personal cost. Constant participation in multiple book-related communities online is grueling. The #writingcommunity hashtag is hugely popular, and in the indie author community, success is linked to maintaining a constant, consistent, personal presence online.

I don’t care how excited and exuberant you are, how PROUD you are of your book, performing in public is work, and every promotional post is a singular little performance. Not to mention the time and emotional energy involved in conversating online daily to stay active in multiple groups. Plus I hate seeing the same post a dozen times a day no matter what it is, so incessant posting about Only My Book will never not generate guilt.

Shortly after Rough Passages came out, I realized I couldn’t survive on gruel. The way I promoted its release is still touted far and wide by commercially-successful indie authors & some publishers as “The Way,” but it can’t be my way. I’m comfortable bragging on my writing, because yes, it’s great, but making professional interaction my constant focus was like hitting myself with a stick while fasting. It left me perpetually weak and bruised. Spec-fic is a tiny niche in the bookworld. It’s a loud, boisterous niche full of bestsellers, but I gotta be realistic: quiet, prosy, slow-burn stories like mine are unlikely to ever appeal to the majority market, no matter how much I promoted it to the wider publishing world.

I detached myself from ALL the Facebook groups, writing, science fiction, and all, and unfollowed a lot of people on Twitter who never interacted with me anyway. The struggle to stay out of the tempting flow is real, but I am committed to it. These days I lurk on the fringes of the online indie-author writing community so I can spot trends and catch news, but I’m only in a handful of groups, and I don’t bother with most Twitter or Instagram hashtags.

That brings us to Sharp Edge’s number. 29.

This pre-release promotion has been low-key and very much in my own small spaces, and I’ve made a conscious effort to spend more time writing the next book (Ghost Town! 85% drafted!) than being online talking about Sharp Edge. I post daily-ish on my spaces, have sent two reminders to my newsletter base, and shared posts to a couple of groups where I was invited to do so. I’m not reeling.

And yet, here I am with nearly the same result. That is more than thrilling. That’s happy-dance celebration worthy.

Not that it’s been easy! Since I am stubborn and will not pay Facebook for advertising boosts on post, I have to announce the same thing again & again to reach anyone when the “pay us to talk about yourself” FB algorithms are working hard against me. It’s still tiring and time consuming. But hey, I’m doing much less of it, and no GUILT!

The email newsletter is easier. I’m actually enjoying sending news & stuff to folx who’ve subscribed to it, because you all volunteered to get news from me! That idea is HIGHLY affirming, to be honest. Heartwarming. Truly.

In conclusion, once again, thank you, THANK YOU, to all you wonderful people who will be welcoming my new book baby into your homes & your hearts. I am deeply grateful.

Some final points.
If you haven’t signed up for my fancy occasional email newsletter yet, you can do that right here: https://mailchi.mp/afe76c32cbce/freestory2021
If you haven’t pre-ordered The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday like all the cool kids have, you can get to its sales pages from here: https://linktr.ee/SharpEdge
If you haven’t read Rough Passages yet and can’t imagine starting Sharp Edge until you do, it’s on sale for $0.99 cents in ebook again, find a seller here: https://books2read.com/rough-passages

That’s all until later, except here’s another cat pic from Pexels, because it’s cute.

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com
Categories
Authoring Cons & Appearances Writing Life

And that’s a wrap on ConCoction 2019

The sequel did not disappoint. I had even more fun this year than last.

All my panels were a blast. So MANY great conversations on the role of creatures in stories, types of relationships besides romance and protagonists beyond the badass…wow. Excellent audience participation, and I met many cool new authors, too, which means of course  I have a huge list of titles to grab for my e-reader. And others to bump to the top of the To Be Read list.

I will attempt a list of all the cool authors who returned from last year and the new ones who joined in…but it will be later, when my brain is less mushy. If I try now, I would forget someone and feel horrible about it forever.

There was even an epic cool event called Prompt Joust, which is basically competitive impromptu storytelling. Two storytellers, one-minute time limit, story prompt/prop revealed just before the first person begins. It’s a web series by Story Medics (link here)  but this was a Special ConCoction edition RECORDED LIVE in front of the convention audience.

<gulp> I did it because the idea terrified me and I love doing scary things, and IT WAS A HOOT! I want to do it again! At some point the recordings will be posted on the Youtube Channel. Yes, I will let people know when mine is on. But I’ll also let you know about everyone else’s, because they were ALL great fun.

Other firsts. I did my first-ever reading from Controlled Descent! To my surprise and glee, it found some immediate fans. Readers grabbed all 5 copies I brought, and also some of Flight Plan, since it’s designed to be readable first. I found homes for a few copies of Rough Passages too. (That phrasing always makes me feel like I’m talking about orphaned kittens or something.)

ANYway.

Stickers were a hit again, people said complimentary things about the Unity Movement & Mercury Battalion support patches, and I even sent a couple of patches home with readers. Also, thanks to the great con organizers, I even had NEW bling to pass along!  I ordered a TON of awesome ribbons with Rough Passages-related messages on them. IT was a huge thrill to see people walking around wearing my ribbons.

(I may love book bling a whole lot.)

Post-con there was a scrumptious pub lunch with great friends I made last year and this one, and Sunday evening I hung out w/the ever-amazing Shannon Eichorn & new friend Abigail Delk for a post-con viewing of How to Train Your Dragon 2.

ON the emotions side, con crash came early with a minor anxiety freakout Saturday afternoon and other twitch sessions thereafter.  I’m getting better about spotting the symptoms early and fending off the worst effects. The most successful defense tactic appears to be regularly admitting to everyone I meet that I’ve gone fragile.

Now that I am fully in post-mode, I am certain I was accidentally rude to people, made someone feel left out, BORED them, or, y’know, just plain screwed up somehow.

But throughout the whole con, I felt included and welcomed and valued. So I’m clinging to those happy snapshots and can only hope I succeeded in my clumsy attempts to be socially supportive to others.

Next up in my life: laundry. Then it’s offline and back to revisions and drafting.

Categories
Authoring Cons & Appearances Promotion Writing Life

2018: listing things for fun & focus

I adore lists. They aren’t useful to me in any organizational way. They don’t make me work more efficiently or help my productivity. The opposite, if anything.  I’m always leaving lists behind, or forgetting where I’ve put them, or getting distracted before finishing one and starting a new one instead…the list itself is rarely a helpful tool.

But making lists? That’s a fish of another color. I consider making a list its own reward. I love writing them.  If you think this odd, well, I also consider scrolling through the cable channel menu its own distinct activity rather than a way to find shows to watch.

I put things on list for the sheer joy of checking them off again. True story. Hey, I never said I was normal.

ANYWAY. Still here? Fab. It’s the beginning of the new year and everyone was doing lists at the end of the old year, but I was hibernating, so I’m late with mine.

Here be my list of 2018 accomplishments. I made them all on my own. They’re little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good. (Apologies to Lilo & Stitch for the misquote.)

1. Wrote a book. The Sharp Edge of Yesterday isn’t published yet, but I finished it & it’s finally in post-editorial revisions. (It even kinda has a pitch: Grace Reed is hiding a terrible secret and a more terrible power. that will rip her away from the family she’s sacrificed everything to keep together. )

2. Wrote most of another book. Ghost Town isn’t finished, but it’s well over 50%, and that’s something. All I’ve got for  pitch is the tongue in cheek, “She’s the new sheriff. He’s been dead a hundred years. Together, they fight crime and bicker.”

3. Attended a few too many science fiction conventions as a professional. Pro meaning I had books there to sell, wore a pro badge, and/or participated on panels and such. Woo, this means I get to make a sub-list!

  • Capricon (MY FIRST CAPRICON!)
  • Concoction (MY FIRST CONCOCTION!!)
  • C2E2 (sorta. All I did was chat w/artists & commission art. )
  • Indiana Comic Con
  • 2018 SFWA Nebula Awards Conference
  • Gen Con
  • Michigan Comic Con
  • Dragon Con
  • WindyCon

4. Wrote 2 short stories. Yes, me. Me, the person whose previous four short stories turned into novels. One of these two, Homecoming,  is a slice-of-life piece about a character who’s in Sharp Edge, and it’s a freebie for people who sign up for my mailing list. The other, Mercy Has a Bitter Taste,  I’ve had critiqued & polished & am sending off to be rejected by all the best professional markets. One down,  thirteen more to go before I trunk it.

5. Started regularly attending an incredibly supportive open mic reading group in Chicago.  Gumbo Fiction Salon. I’ve read all of Bitter Gift there, and the reception is what gave me the confidence to start sending it out.

NOTE: GBS isn’t the reading series I first expected to support. There’s another series, held at Volumes Book Cafe, that I attended once and & HIGHLY recommend. I’m v sad about never returning to it, but scheduling conflicts, life detours, and a VERY difficult location have all conspired against me getting back there. (And now I’m too embarrassed to show my face again. Sigh.)

6? I think that’s it for major writerly type achievements from 2018. I mean, yes, I commissioned new covers for books from the fantastic Rhiannon Taylor and the amazing Rachel Bostwick, I signed a contract for line edits from a phenomenal professional editor, I signed up for 2019 conventions, I ran multiple book promotions online, I got my latest novel into the WorldCat library database and on shelves in library systems in Illinois, Ohio, & Kentucky, and maybe Pennsylvania…

…but all that’s just everyday authoring stuff.

So much for 2018. Onward to 2019. Big plans in the making & big doings ahead.

 

Categories
Authoring other things Promotion Writing Life

Hi, there.

Big, big gratitude to the good friends & other new readers who picked up my books recently and were kind enough to tell me about it. You’ve brought some highlights into a week of major emotional lows. Knowing you’ve read Rough Passages–and my other books–brings me a special kind of happiness.

Thank you for your support and excitement about my stories. It means the world to me.

Also–

If you ever feel moved to take a shelfie and send it my way, I promise to keep it and cherish it and comb its fur and call it George…or something like that. I would certainly share the picture on social media as proudly as any gleeful new parent shares baby pics. (but only with your permission, of course.)

What? What’s a shelfie?

It’s a picture of my books in your setting. In your hands, on a shelf or table, posed with a cute stuffed animal or family pet…wherever. So MANY possibilities. If you’re camera-shy like me, any old pic of my books living with the rest of your collection is lovely. (Plus that usually give me ideas for things to put on my TBR list.) Ebooks? Cover on kindle screen works. Or any page on screen. I’m easygoing about it.

In fact, if you don’t have my books, you can still make someone’s day/week/month/year. Take a shelfie of whatever you’ve read recently and liked, share it in a post or a tweet and mention that you liked it when you tag the author by name.

It creates instant joy, I swear.

ANYway.

Thank you all again. Happy reading.