This past year I authored my first fiction series, The Witches Of New Moon Beach. Like all new authors, I was totally excited to share what I had written and couldn’t wait to see my books posted up on Amazon. I had such a blast writing the series and had fallen in love with both my characters and my newly created beach city. I felt confident that my book covers were strong and that I had a solid plan for marketing each of the three (now four) books in the series.
Unfortunately for me, I let my excitement to share override my common sense. Sure, I had checked and rechecked for spelling errors and I even had three different people read my first book. I knew that there were individuals out there that you could pay to edit your books, check for typos, misused words or grammatical errors. But since I hadn’t yet made a dime I was resistant to spend money on the above mentioned even though in the back of my mind, I had a pressing fear that I might just have missed something. Grammar is just not my thing!
And so I proudly posted my first book for all to see and was immediately bitten in the butt by reviewers. Yes, there were a few kind comments, but then the bite came as I read “the grammatical errors were sometimes humorous” and “the book is filled with typos that simple editing could rectify.” One reader said I wrote like a teenager. Ouch!
How had this happened? I had done more than simple editing. What had I missed? I immediately took the book down and got some help. I repeatedly read the book back to front searching for errors. I tried out several editing software packages before purchasing Ginger and I ran book one past a high school English grammar teacher who I respected. I agonized before putting it back up. But the cleaning apparently worked since 73% of my reviews from then on were 4’s and 5’s and I’ve not been hit with negative remarks on spelling or typos again.
Let me say this clearly, I deserved to be bitten in the butt for posting a book with internal errors. I own this and boy did that hurt! I’m sure that I lost more than a few readers who were disappointed by my poor editing skills and either didn’t finish reading book one or never ventured toward purchasing books 2, 3 or 4. I’m saddened that they never got a chance to get to know my characters or to experience the magic within the pages.
Skip forward to my 5th book which will be out in early February 2017. I have spell checked it repeatedly, used my Ginger software for grammatical screening and had two different people read it for possible errors. However, this time, I’m also going to spend a few bucks to have a professional edit my book. Why? Because I can still remember how badly I felt when reading those negative reviews; reviews that I had earned. There is nothing worse than being disappointed in yourself.
I also learned something very important. It’s hard to see your own errors after you have lived with a story from birth to finish. I guess that I read right past mistakes more than once. My brain read the word site when I had actually spelled it sight. And semicolons took the place of far too many commas. I even failed to capitalize a word or two clearly by reading too quickly through the story.
In the end, I survived. Painful though it was, I learned a great deal from this experience. My counsel to you? Protect your butt – take your time, do your homework and then consider getting some professional help.
My best wishes to you as you successfully share your future stories with the world!
The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. When I retired after 35 years in education, I longed to share all that I had learned and created several parenting books on topics from bullying to homework strategies. While I miss those enchanting moments with children and their parents, I always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I sought out my own magic and wrote about it. In short, I was lured into the world of fiction writing where I soon created my first series, The Witches of New Moon Beach. The first book, Morning Magic is currently FREE.
This month I’m teaching a brand new online class for OCC – “7 Ways to Market and Promote Your Book Without Breaking the Bank.” I’m excited to share the things I’ve learned about inexpensive promotions – including having an author newsletter – with my writer friends!
The 4-week class starts next Monday, August 15, 2016, and costs $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members. You don’t have to be a member of RWA to enroll in the class. You can read more about it and sign up for the class here. I hope to see you there! [Note: Signing up is a 2-step process. You must hit the purple “Yahoo Groups Join Now” button AND then come back to the page and pay via PayPal. If you only do one step or the other, you won’t be in the class until you complete both steps.]
This week I also re-opened my full-sized online course, “Your How-to Guide to Self-Publishing.” I’m so excited about everything I’m doing on the new website! There are five modules covering every step you need to take to get from finished manuscript to published book. I’ve spread it out over eight weeks, which should be plenty of time to learn what you need to do in the lessons and then go apply it. And you’ll have lifetime access so you can come back to the lessons as often as you like.
I’ve included videos, audio downloads, text-based lectures, and worksheets to help you through the entire process. There’s also a private Facebook group where students can ask questions and share their experiences. Two of the three tiers give students access to weekly/monthly live video-based Q&A calls, and those in the upper tier also get a private coaching call with me.
There are payment plans for all three tiers, and bonuses for anyone who signs up by August 15. You can learn more about it all at WriteNowWorkshop.com. If you have any questions, please email me at kitty AT writenowworkshop.com.
I’m looking forward to helping more writers self-publish their books and find new ways to promote them. I hope to see you in one of my classes!
Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon . The free short story Superhero in Disguise and the new short story Welcome to Loon Lake are available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.
Some of my favorite apps and SaaS (software as a service) software for writers are well-known to many, but just in case you haven’t heard of some of them, I thought I’d share.
Evernote – great for organizing and storing information. I have separate “notebooks” for self-publishing, teaching, business, and more. Within each notebook, I also have dozens of tags that I can use in lieu of filing information in multiple locations. You can use it on your computer as well as your smart phone. Add “Evernote Clipper” to your browser and you can save anything on the Internet with a single click (websites, PDFs, whatever).
BookFunnel – great for giving away your ebook(s) to beta readers, reviewers, giveaway winners, and more. What I love most about this service is that the user answers a couple of short questions about how they want to get their free ebook, and then they get a short video explaining how to get the book onto the appropriate device. No more emails from readers asking how to put the file I emailed them onto their Kindle or Nook.
BookPlanner – great for giving you a step-by-step timeline of all the steps to bring your book to publication. There are several timelines to choose from depending on your needs.
Vellum – amazing for quickly and easily creating all ebook formats. It automatically creates Nook links in the back of the Nook file for all your other books on B&N, Amazon links for all the books you have on Amazon in your Amazon file, etc. Several choices for fonts, flourishes to separate scenes, and much more. Only downside – Mac only.
MyFitnessPal – strange addition to the list? This app is directly responsible for helping me lose 24 pounds in 24 weeks. It will tell you what your daily calorie limit should be based on your age, height, and weight, and the amount of weight you want to lose per week. Hundreds of thousands of foods are in the database so you know not only how many calories you’re ingesting, but fat, protein, carbohydrates, sodium, and sugar as well. Even if you don’t need to lose weight, it’s good to know what you’re really eating. Want to track your exercise as well? Use MapMyRun for your walks, runs, bike rides, and more. Both are available for smart phones and computers, and free to use at the standard level.
Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon. The free short story “Superhero in Disguise” and the new short story “Welcome to Loon Lake” are available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.
I wrote about the results from my May 5-days-free promotion here, and I just updated the earnings this week to “actual” rather than a guesstimate, showing I overestimated revenue. I also tallied the results from my August 5-days-free promotion here. (I’m still showing revenue guesstimates until I get the final numbers for September, but I’ll update that post soon). Both of these promotions have been for Little Miss Lovesick, which has been in KDP Select since February 26, 2015.
Now I want to discuss my “borrows” – which I’ll refer to as KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) for periods beginning July 1, 2015. I’ve been studying the “tail” of sales and borrows after my promotions to see how long it lasts. (The length of the period after a sales spike is commonly referred to as the tail.)
I don’t want to leave my book in KDP Select forever, but at what point has the positive impact of the 5-days-free promo in each 90-day period stopped influencing borrows/KENP? It’s not cut-and-dried, particularly because you can’t truly compare “borrows” of full books to KENP, “pages read” of full books. But for me, for this book, it looks like there are 4-6 good weeks of borrows, with the first three weeks the very best.
For example, for the first 2 1/2 months of the first KDP Select 90-day period (February 26 – May 25, 2015), I had 1 borrow. In the two weeks during and after the free period (May 19-31), I had 71 borrows! Then another 88 in the month following (June 1-30).
But the second month after the free period showed a sharp drop – 2381 KENP pages read. Little Miss Lovesick has 402 KENP pages, so that’s the equivalent of about 6 books borrowed and read July 1-31.
[NOTE: Little Miss Lovesick was earning about $1.35 per “borrow” through June 30, 2015. Since Amazon changed borrows to KENP pages read on July 1, the book – at 402 KENP pages – now earns about $2.32 if a reader reads every page.]
During the second 90-day period (May 26 – August 23), I tried to recreate the circumstances as exactly I could. During the two weeks during and after the free period (August 18-31), there were 24,899 KENP pages read! Because I don’t expect that every reader reads every page (copyright page, author bio, excerpt, etc.), I’d guess that’s between 62 and 66 books borrowed and read (compared to 71 borrows in May).
The following month, September 1-30, there were 15,567 KENP pages read. That’s probably about 38-42 books borrowed and read (as compared to 88 in June).
If you’d like to see exact numbers, here are the KENP pages read by week for the last seven weeks. Day 1 of Week 1 is the first day of the 5-days-free promo.
Week 1: 7246 KENP pages read
Week 2: 17,653
Week 3: 7831
Week 4: 3780
Week 5: 1692
Week 6: 1811
Week 7: 1274
It’s too early to guess what October’s numbers might be, but based on one period of history above (not a good way to show statistical integrity), and understanding that the previous way Amazon counted borrows (1 book, regardless of how much of it was read after the 20% mark) is significantly different from the new method (by page, exactly), my guess is that October’s numbers will be bleak.
The reason why I started looking at these numbers this week is because Little Miss Lovesick is in the middle of another 90-day KDP Select period, and I need to decide which five days will be free. Knowing that the sales/borrows tail will be good for at least three weeks, I want to do the free promo at least three to four weeks before the end of the period so I can get all the revenue I can from borrows before the book leaves the program.
Unless I change my mind and leave this book in KDP Select for another term (through February 19, 2016), I’ll set the five free days to start sometime during the week of October 18. That will leave me a four-to-five-week tail to get paid for as many KENP pages read as possible before the book leaves KDP Select on November 22.
ACK!! That doesn’t give me much time to figure out where and how to promote it to best advantage!
And that is why I wrote this post for you. 🙂 If you put a book in KDP Select, you need to think through all the potential good that can come your way and figure out how to harness it. If you leave your 5-day-free promo to the end of the period, and don’t renew the book in KDP Select in the following period, you stand to lose hundreds of dollars or more in KENP lost revenue.
If your book isn’t selling anywhere else, as was the case with this book, it probably doesn’t hurt to keep trying different ways to gain readers using KDP Select. For instance, if you don’t want to make your book free for five days (and they can be any five days, but everyone I know, myself included, has found the best results when the five days are in a row), you can try KDP Select’s Kindle Countdown Deal.
The key is – whatever you decide to do, think it through and make a plan. Good luck!