Categories
Promotion Writing Life

Oh, no, it’s a year end post! Wait, not really.

But it’s a post on New Year’s Eve so it counts, I guess?

Spouseman & I are ringing out the old year with leftover steak dinner from yesterday, plus lots of popcorn and hot apple cider, while watching a 2021 movie–Black Widow. Which is nothing wild or partylike, but it’s basically the kind of thing we usually do on NYE. Cozy & quiet. That’s my brand, I guess?

Earlier in the day garage cleaning occurred (EXCITEMENT!) and some visiting with a friend, and there was also writing in front of the fireplace with the cat. More progress on Serena’s dog story was made. Snacks were enjoyed. And Pippin snored a lot.

photographic proof of fireside presence.

Every time I took a writing break and surfed through the news I saw people sharing their big accomplisments from 2021. AND I AM NOTHING IF NOT A FOLLOWER. SO.

The big thing I did in 2021 was send my new book out into the world.

The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday, in case you have somehow missed all my posts about it until now, is a fantastical novel set in a world much like this one except that 10% of the populations develop unexplainable powers when they hit middle age.

It’s a story about family, secrets, mistakes, and betrayal, it’s about the power of trust and cooperation, it’s about the evil of dehumanization, and it’s about redemption. There a characters ranging in age from radical teens to badass grannies, and it stars a wicked heroine who takes charge of her own life.

Or, as my wonderful author-friend Shannon Eichorn puts it, it’s about middle-aged moms with superpowers making the military very nervous. What’s that? You think that book sounds epic excellent and want a link to find it? Here ya go: bit.ly/sharpedgekmh

It looks like this. Isn’t it pretty?

Sharp Edge didn’t get a release party, because pandemic, and for the same reason I only got to show it off at two conventions, one big, one small, but somewhat to my surprise, it released really, really well. Best of my six books so far by a long shot.

People bought it–LOTS of people, people who’ve never heard of me & didn’t know anything about the book except its blurb–they reviewed it, they bought copies for other people, and they told friends to buy it. That’s as good as it gets as far as I’m concerned.

Would I like more reviews? Of course I would. I want 100 reviews for each of my books. Why? WHY NOT? It’s a nice round number. Also a ridiculously ambitious one. Some great novels take years to hit that. Some brilliant ones never do.

On a practical level a book needs 25+ reviews specifically on Amazon before I can begin to promote it through most of the best channels available to me. (I only have 1 title over that threshold, alas, and it isn’t Sharp Edge.) And would I like more sales? Hell yes, of course, what recovering bookseller doesn’t love seeing their book fly off shelves virtual or physical?

But honestly, I only care about that part because sales mean readers, and no story circle is complete without that happening. I love the idea of sharing this world I’ve dreamed up and squeezed into existence out of nothingness. I can talk about my characters and their conflicts all day long, and I have a hundred more stories to tell about them. Hundreds more. At least.

ANYway. That’s a good place to wrap this up. Black Widow is over, and now I need to watch some Marvel What If?

Good-bye, 2021, (aka 2020 the sequel) hello, 2022. May there be new stories completed, nw stories begun, new friends made, and many good times shared.

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
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

Eels, dear readers.

My brain has a bad case of “Hahaha no focus for you!” today.

It’s book release nerves. I know that. Knowing doesn’t help. (WHY, NERVES? WHY? YOU ARE POINTLESS.)

Being antsy will have zero effect on The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday’s ultimate fate. Either it will land in a cushy safety net built by happy readers who write reviews and make word-of-mouth recommendations, or it will quickly sink into the yawning void of the internet, mostly unseen and unloved except by my elite cadre of awesome fans.

That’s out of my hands. What’s in my hands is a lot of work.

Well. It should be in my hands. It’s languishing undone. I still need to write social media promos to boost the release. My email list needs love. The website will need updating. Boxes need mailing–suffice to say, there’s a lot more on the list.

Then there’s all the Life Stuff that doesn’t stop just because I write books. Bills need paying, a million little things need fixing, the cupboards are kinda bare, the laundry (AUGH LAUNDRY)

I know I need to choose one task and start it, but they all feel so slippery inside my head it’s impossible to get a grip on them. Seriously. Each task is a slick, slimy, squirmy eel of an idea that gets slipperier the longer I try to hold onto it for evaluation. Is slipperier a word? Spellcheck thinks so. ANYway.

Forget brain weasels. Today I have brain hagfish.

OK,, fine, hagfish aren’t eels, but WORK WITH ME HERE, will you? They’re figurative hag eels. Or something.

I could keep wrestling with them, or I could keep scrolling social media for funny memes, write a blog post, & wait for one of the tasks to dry off enough that I can pick it up. Guess which strategy I’m going with.

Oh, and the book on sale I mentioned? ROUGH PASSAGES $0.99 ebook right now. Moms with superpowers, activist teens, & heroic Marines. You want it. Unless you have it already. You probably do.

But if you don’t:

amazon.com/rough-passages for Kindle
books2read.com/rough-passages for everything else.

Sharp Edge of Yesterday (like Rough Passages, only bigger, longer, & with MOAR POWERS) has its own linkie page: linktr.ee/SharpEdge.

Okay, that’s more than enough for now. Probably too much.

Until later!

And now a word from our sponsor…okay, from me.

If you like my writing, you’ll love my monthly newsletter.
Subscribers get exclusive perks & first looks at all the best stuff. Stories, art, behind-the-scenes writing peeks, and more.
No commitment! Easy-peasy! You’ll love it!

Bonus kitteh picture for everyone who got this far.
(Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com)

PS: EXTRA life points for anyone who knows the song I paraphrased in the post title.

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