Happy August. How has your summer been?
I am at the end of an experiment per se. I booked a review slot with Hidden Gems.
Like some authors it hasn’t been easy for me to get my readers to post reviews. I really wish I understood why this simple request is so difficult to fulfill. Then I think about myself. I have read quite a few books and am guilty of the very thing my readers haven’t done…post a review.
As a writer, I have become more aware of the importance of leaving reviews.
Last month, I enlisted the review service Hidden Gems. I heard great things about the service, but was a little apprehensive because of a past experience with a different review service. After asking around, I settled on them and I’m glad I did.
I choose their entry level plan, 50 reviews with my book A Southern Gentleman Vol One. I was very nervous. The nine reviews weren’t representative of the sales. This is my best selling title. When I do signings or book club events, the book is well received. Many have said how much they like the hero Jeremiah. However, the majority of them have yet to write a review.
Working with Hidden Gems was me walking into the lion’s den to face fifty readers unfamiliar with me or my books.
When the first reviews came in, I was good. Then a bad one appeared and I was fit to be tied. I know I’m not Jane Austen, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele or Debbie Macomber, but I can tell a story. However, I get a little pissed when people say they couldn’t get passed the first chapter. A thing like that can shake a writer’s confidence.
I think what stopped me from replying to that first bad review was the fact the review misquoted several things. Here’s a review tip…if you’re going to leave a bad review, know of what you speak. As I re-read the bad review for the fifth time, I came to the conclusion this person was looking for a reason not to like my book. Oh well, their loss.
As the reviews came in, I was surprised to see how my book was viewed. Let me clarify. I thought of it as sweet & sexy. However, the reviews came back as just sweet. There was the occasional rushed storyline. Some were upset I didn’t mention the faith element. Overall Jeremiah has been well received.
A bonus during the review period was an increase in sales across my library.
I’m glad I tried the service. It was well worth the money. Will I do it again? Yes. I have to be honest, I wouldn’t have done this if it hadn’t been for the fact that I want to apply for a BookBub Featured Deal. I’ve heard of authors getting a BookBub Featured Deal without a lot of reviews. However, the two times I’ve gotten featured deals was with my book that has 30+ reviews. Using that as a measuring stick, I wanted to make sure I set myself up in a positive light. We’ll see what happens when I apply.
As of this post, my Amazon average is 4 out of 5 stars for A Southern Gentleman Vol One. I’m hoping to keep it there or higher.
I also think I’ll be adding Hidden Gems to my release plan. I know it’s costly, but if it will help make my book launches more successful, then it’s well worth the money.
If you’ve tried Hidden Gems or another service, what was your experience?
See you next month.
It’s hard to believe we are in the middle of July. This really isn’t the summer I planned. What’s that saying, “If you want to know if God has a sense of humor, make plans.”
This has been a year unlike any other and that is pretty much how it will be described. We will tell future generations how we survived 2020.
I sympathize with all who have suffered any type of loss during this time.
I have elected not to dwell on the negatives. Instead, I’m focusing on what I can do to update my writer life. I made a list of things I wanted to get done. I was surprised at the length of the list. Here’s a sampling of my tasks…some are still WIP:
I have yet to master a regular social media schedule. I got close earlier this year, but fell off the wagon. I heard about two planning apps: Planoly and Plann. I’m trying them out on my lingerie site. Once I complete a month of use, I’ll share the results. I will share this. On my lingerie Instagram page, I did the pre-planning and it yielded sales and a couple of new followers. Again, If I’d placed a little more energy into it, I believe the results would have been better.
What new or different thing have you done for your writing career?
Please forgive me for the replay. I’m in the middle of editing. Considering the state of our world right now, I thought it might be interesting to repost my plan for 2020. This post made me laugh. Like most writers, I have had to alter my plans for the year. In spite of the unstable time, I’ve been able to keep on track with my planning tools. Please stay safe. Use wisdom and don’t rush to get back to the old normal. Instead, get excited about the new normal. See you next month. Happy June.
REPOST FROM JANUARY 2020
Happy New Year and Happy Decade. First I want to apologize for the mishap last month, internet issues prevented me from doing anything.
Let’s get this year and decade off to a great start. I don’t believe in resolutions. For those who do, good for you. Instead, I choose to set goals and plans for myself. This is what works for me. This method keeps me focused and forces me to strive for the next level. Do I always reach my goals in my designated time frame, no. But that’s okay, I simply push them back and keep working towards them.
To briefly recap 2019. I started the year with great aspirations to publish four books. That didn’t happen. Instead, I released one book, A Southern Gentleman Vol 2 in October. I did however, release four boxsets, Secret Love, Real Love, Loving Her and Falling For Her Boss. I didn’t get more books published because I made a decision in 2018 which carried over into 2019…ReBranding.
I talked about ReBranding a lot at the end of 2018. However, I failed to underestimate how long it would take. In 2019 I started changing covers and blurbs, which opened a can of creative worms. I love the new covers and the new website. I still have work to do on the website, which appears to be a constant work in progress.
Since I do all of my graphic design, it takes up a little more of my time, which sometimes makes me a victim of poor time management. This is something I’m working on this year. [I’ll talk more about that later.]
It wasn’t until I released A Southern Gentleman Vol 2, that I realized I needed help. Me not getting help was costing me valuable time. I thought by me doing everything myself, I was saving money. In reality, I was losing money and valuable time. As my mother says, “you can always get more money, but not more time.”
A few weeks before my release, I booked a publicist [Honey Magnolia PR] to help me. The minute, I booked Honey Magnolia, I immediately felt relief. I had used a PR company before, but the results weren’t as good as I had hoped. So I was a little apprehensive to go that route again, but this time, it worked. I saw good sales and engagement.
My takeaway from 2019 was simple, be patient with rebranding and know when to get help.
A couple of years ago, I took you on a wild challenge of writing and publishing a title a month. This year, I want to take you with me on another journey…no, it’s not a book a month. SMILE. Planning. It seems so simple, but for me, it’s not something I’ve really committed to. Let me clarify.
In the past, I would start the year with a production schedule. Pretty much every month was filled with a title. There was a mix of new books, backlist updates and special boxsets. I figured the best was to get eyes on me was through titles. This is sort of a good plan when worked effectively. But I failed to schedule promotions and market the titles.
I went searching for a marketing calendar for my other business and stumbled on a couple of authors who like to use planners. One in particular, Sarra Cannon, opened my eyes to planning. She also shared her 90 Day plan. This is a remarkable plan. I’m, going to try it this quarter and share my progress.
This year, I’m also going to share how I use a planner to help me write and organize my business. Trust me, this is a world I never knew existed, but it’s filled with tips on how to work more efficiently.
Next month, I’ll share the results of my first month using a planner and update my 90 Day process.
What Are You Doing During the Quarantine?
Happy May and happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers.
I have to be one of the few people not too upset about being on quarantine. I work from home so this isn’t that different from my everyday routine, except I can’t go to the gym, the salon or church. I sympathize and pray for everyone who has been infected or lost someone.
Before you virtually yell at me, or gather ten or less people to come and beat me up, step back, take a deep breath and look at the gift you’ve been given.
How many times have you said if I had a little more time, I could get this done. Or, I need to finish my book, but I’ve got a presentation I need to get done for my other job. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book, but never had the time. This is your time.
Did you know if you had committed to writing 2000 words a day for the past six weeks, you’d have enough for a book? Or two novellas? If you continued writing until the lock in was lifted, you could have two books and possibly a novella or short story. Enough inventory to launch your writing career or if you’re already published…a new series.
I hear a lot of people complaining about being locked in and what they miss. This is such an amazing time.
During the lock-in, I finished a book and started another. I’ve updated my writing and marketing plans. I’ve been testing Facebook ads. This has also allowed me a chance to try some newsletter vendors I’ve never used before.
Don’t waste this time complaining or thinking you can do it later. There are quite a few businesses offering freebies or discounts to new customers. I tried a newsletter I had been wanting to try. I liked the results and will definitely be using them in the future.
When we went on quarantine, it effected both of my businesses. I don’t know about anyone else, but I really expected a huge spike in book sales because people were home. However, I failed to consider my readership. Quite a few of them have children which meant their free time was now being used for home schooling, not pleasure reading. So what was I going to do?
I really wanted to freak out, but I changed my attitude. I was in the process of finishing a book I wanted to in May. However, I didn’t finish it until last week, which means the release date needed to be pushed back.
Looking at what’s happening in the world and to my sales right now, I’m considering a different launch strategy. Possibly pushing the release back to late fall. If I do that, I would have the next in the series complete and release the books back to back. I never would have considered that strategy if it hadn’t been for this life break.
I have also been looking at additional revenue streams. I love print books. Especially hardcover. During this time, I’ve been researching other versions of my books…hardcover, limited edition and audio.
Here are some things you can do during the shut in.
Re-stock print book inventory
Order new marketing materials
Book future ads
Set up some pre-orders
Recommend Books on BookBub
Update a series
Write a novella or short story
Listen to writing Podcast or You Tube shows
Check out what other writers are doing
Support your fellow writers
Create additional revenue streams
Bottom line, concentrate on how to turn this negative into a positive. Don’t waste this time. Look at it as a set up for 2021.
Stay safe and wise.
Happy April and Happy Birthday to me. Today’s my birthday and I am celebrating at a very intimate and exclusive restaurant, my house.
There is no need to rehash or complain about what we are all enduring. Here’s my only comment or prayer, we are all victorious survivors and can endure more than we can imagine.
I’m going to keep it short this month.
I just finished my first quarter as a planner girl. It has been an amazing experience. I’m a lot more focused and I’m amazed at how much I got accomplished. There are some tools I really like and some that I didn’t. At least right now. I might revisit the ones that didn’t fit later. I will only be discussing the planning tools I’m using for my author business.
Tool: Kanban Board
I’m not going to say I love this just yet, but I really like it. It helped a lot to see my tasks in front of me daily. It also forced me not to bite off more than I could chew. When I put this in place, I was going to write a different book. About two weeks into the first 30 days, the book I scheduled just wasn’t. I switched books and the words flowed like a faucet. In fact, the book went from novella to novel length.
There were a few things that were moved because it involved the book I was no longer working on. My math might be a little off but here are the results. I started the year with 3 goals and 59 tasks. I complete the goals. I realize those are going to take a little longer than expected. The goals had 59 tasks. I completed 32 tasks, 15 didn’t get done and 7 were carried over.
As of this posting, I’m working on next quarter’s Kanban board.
I have been meaning to try Fussy Librarian and just hadn’t gotten around to it. However, I received an email offering me a chance to try them for free with a free book. I did and ad day produced great results. My book got to #4 in a couple of categories and in the top 100 with another one. The tails on the ad lasted about a week. I will definitely be trying them again.
I have an official ad budget and I’ll let you know how it’s working at the end of the quarter. I think I need 90 days to really assess the results. I am currently in the first stage, testing facebook ads. This is an area I really want to crack. I have spent too much time and money on courses for them not to work.
Tool: Planner Inserts
I have been testing a mixture of planner inserts searching for the ones that are right for me. I think I have a system I like. I’m not the planner who likes a lot of stickers. Although I did see some last week that I really like. I do use colored transparency tabs and some dots.
I created an engagement log sheet which I use weekly to chart my sales, word count and social media followers. This has helped me. When I write things down, it helps me visualize and push myself. Or know when to take a break.
Tool: Author Planner
My author planner is really a business bible. It contains a calendar, production schedule, newsletter and ad schedule, expense and sales log, print book inventory and event schedule. This is very handy. I use it in conjunction with my 90 Day Plan notebook. Any story ideas are kept in a separate notebook by my bed.
Tool: Instagram…Social Media
I did an online course on building your Instagram audience for my lingerie business and tried it with my author business. It works well for the lingerie, but not as well for my author business. I’m thinking about trying Planoly to schedule my author posts. When I post on Instagram, I make sure to click the other social media options. This helps me stay engaged and post regularly. Interesting thing, when I post a shirtless man, I get great engagement. Go figure.
WIP…as of this post, I am approximately 4500 words away from completing my book. I know last month I said I was about 7000 words away from completing my book. That was true. However, the story took a turn and I added a few more thousand words. I really thought I would have finished it sooner. But the delay has worked to my advantage. I’m not sure how a release would have done right now.
I’m not sure what I’ll talk about next month. Let’s play it by ear.
Happy April. Stay safe.
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