This is one of my favorite times to post, because it’s my birthday. So Happy Birthday to me.
The past month while preparing my new release The Good Girl Part Trois, I realized it had been over a year since my last release.
The other thing that shocked me was the size of the book. I knew it was going to be slightly larger than the previous two in the series. Those are novellas. However, I had no idea it was going to finish out at 70,000+ words. I know what you’re saying, didn’t you have the page count on while you were writing? Yes, I did, but it’s not until I formatted it that it clicked. Based on the way I format my print books, I think this book is going to officially be my biggest and longest print book.
I’m just beginning release month so I have very few things to share with you about this release.
Prior to the release, I started listening to the Six Figure Author podcast. I don’t remember how I discovered it, but gleaned a lot of information. I also listened to Tim Grahl’s “Your first 1000 Copies”. I also reviewed some of my Self Publishing Formula lessons.
I did all of this research because I wanted different results with this release. It might sound vain, but I really want that NYT, USA Today, WSJ, Amazon bestseller tag. Don’t judge. I know a bestseller tag doesn’t necessary equal sales. Nor does it validate you. It’s one of those unexplainable author things. But because I write a very different type of romance…faith and sex, hitting the list would mean people get me. In a nutshell, it would validate my writing. It also means readers understand and appreciate the stories I’m telling.
All that research led me to make a decision to do a soft or small launch. This is because I’ll be releasing book four in the series in a few months. An author in one of my Facebook groups suggested I “plug the crap out of book four and the series”. I could do that, but how?
I mentioned last month why I pushed the release date back, but now I needed a plan. How was I going to set up a small launch? All of the launch plans I researched had some of the same components…get
reviews, schedule ads, alert your list and post to social media. Possibly do a giveaway. Also, don’t focus so much on the day, but the month and how to turn that into sales with tails.
I changed my focus, which was hard. I really wanted to go after a list spot. Let’s be real, I’ve never come close to a list position with a paid release. Now free books is something different. The first two books in The Good Girl Series have been doing very well as freebies. So much so, that I am seriously thinking about making book one permafree. Since I made it free, I’ve seen an increase in reviews for both books.
Here’s what I did and will be doing during release month.
I participated in a massive one day free book giveaway. I used my first two books in the series as a lead in for book three. The giveaway yielded several thousand downloads plus preorders for book three. For the first time in my writing career, I had almost 100 preorders. For some this is a small number, but for me it was huge.
I offered a preorder. In the past I sometimes waited until the last minute to put up a preorder. The reason being, I didn’t want to get boxed into a corner with Amazon in case I missed the date. Another first for me, preorders across all platforms.
Facebook. This is where I ran into a little problem. I had what I thought was the perfect image for my Facebook Ads. Unfortunately, they disagreed and shut my ads account down for being too suggestive. I freaked out because I was testing ads. This set me back a couple of days. I immediately started praying and asking my groups for advice. I did as suggested and appealed to Facebook and the following day, my account was reopened. This pushed my plan back, because of the necessary testing period. Looking back now, I consider this to be a good thing, because it means my ads will be set for book four’s release.
AMS and BookBub. I set up ads for all three books on these platforms. Books one and two are doing well. Unfortunately, book three isn’t. I’m not going to freak out. Once I get it right, it will be set for book four’s release.
Newsletter ads. I took advantage of The Fussy Librarian’s special and booked two free slots for the first two books. I don’t have any proof, but I’m pretty sure it led to some preorders on the days the ads posted. I also, booked an ad for later in the month with another site.
Promotions. The promotion I mentioned involved free books which meant I had to make the books free in advance. Doing this pushed me in the top ten free in several categories in a few countries. Once the promotion ended, I left the books as free to drive sales to book three. I’m doing another free promo in a few days and I elected to use book one in the series. I’m hoping this will drive more sales to book three.
Social Media posts. I posted to all of my pages with some hits. What surprised me the most was people commenting on the ads thanking me for the free books. That’s nice. To my knowledge, there’s no way for me to know if those will turn into sales.
Newsletter swaps. I did one with a friend and want to do more. I think it’s important as authors that we help each other. Sharing or exposing my readers to other authors is something I want to incorporate in my newsletter on a regular basis.
Reviews. This is where I dropped the ball. I was still tweaking the book up to a few days before release so I didn’t do ARCs. I know I should have gotten reviews which was part of my plan. I have no reason for why I didn’t do it. I did seek out a review service and they said I would need to offer the other two books as well. If that’s the case, I’ll wait until book four to use the review service. Good review news, as of this morning I had two five star ratings.
How do I feel about the small or slow launch? It’s too soon to say. I did review my past release month results and so far, this is working. I will admit my best release month so far, was with Unexpected Love. I followed a different plan which called for a 99c release price. So far, I sold more books with that release, but money wise, this release has made more.
So what have I learned with this release so far? Making the bestseller list is a goal and can be achieved anytime in a book’s life. Rank is good, but not the only measure to a book’s success. You can’t use the same launch plan for every book. Steady sales pay the bills. Write what you want to read, because there are a few readers out there with similar reading tastes.
I have a confession. I am a writer who hasn’t released a new book in over a year. There, I said it. I can’t believe my last new release was late 2019.
I will not lament about the ups and downs of 2020, nor will I use the pandemic as an excuse for not publishing a book. Instead of publishing a new book, I concentrated on completing a book, which I did. Truthfully, my plan was to release The Good Girl Part Trois last year, but that didn’t happen.
Instead, I reread it and realized it needed a little work. A little work quickly turned into a lot of work. I’m not complaining because I’m very pleased with the story. However, I’m a lot disappointed I let so much time lapse between releases. The extra time gave me some perspective and an opportunity to figure out a launch plan.
I listened to several podcasts and You Tube videos searching for a new release launch plan. In the end, I decided to try something completely different slow and escalating. I would love to land in a bestseller spot at the end of release day or week. To accomplish such a feat would take a lot more planning than I have. My plan takes patience. I look at it as setting my book up for long term sales.
First step in my plan, push the release date back. This was a difficult decision to make. After all, in Jann’s post as well as mine, I said my release date was February 23rd. Why the change? A couple of things…lack of time and a couple of amazing promotion opportunities. As it got closer to the middle of February, I felt rushed. Although I was going with a slow crawl release plan, I still felt rushed. The other reason was promotion slots.
I forgot it was difficult to book premium newsletter slots without reviews. Since I hadn’t finished tweaking the edits, I didn’t have time to secure additional beta readers. I was in trouble. Thank God, I had the opportunity to participate in a couple of free giveaways.
I was already considering making book one free as a lead in for the series. When these opportunities came up, jumped on them and made the first two books free. This got me to thinking, instead of trying to buy a lot of newsletter ads for the new release, I’m buying ads for the first two books. I’ll stagger them for maximum the exposure. Bottom line, I’m going to promote these free books like crazy for a month. Hopefully, this will lead to a lot of pre-orders for book three. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Second, reformat books one and two. I knew I had to upload the new covers which would only literally take a few minutes with Vellum. All I needed was the original file. Sounds easy, except for one minor detail, I couldn’t find the file. It wasn’t until I had spent a couple of hours searching my computer, that I remembered I didn’t format them.
Once I found the original files, I loaded them and in a matter of minutes the books were formatted. However, before calling it a day, I reread the books and made a few tweaks. That’s a joke. I re-wrote a few chapters. In the end, I added a few hundred words and modified some of the character behavior to match up with books three and four. This little task took about a week to complete. I didn’t stop there. I also decided to update the style of the book which led to another week of work.
I thought I was done with the first two books, until I realized I needed to update the print versions as well. If this was a new release, this step could have waited, but these were books that were already out. I took them down on Amazon, but I think they might still be up. This may sound bad, but I hope no one buys a print version until I get the new version uploaded.
Amazing how something which seemed simple turned into a major project. I wasn’t looking forward to reformatting the print books. Again, I was feeling pressured. I use Vellum and this turned out to the the perfect time to try their print version. In a matter of seconds, I had a print version of my book. It was nice, but I tweaked it with some special chapter headers. I like the file, now all I need to do is order the proof. I’m going to try to release the print version for book three on release day, but it might have to wait a couple of weeks. I need a break.
What does the rest of my release plan look like? A lot of ads. I already have a Facebook ad running, but I’m going to increase the spend and add another one. Funny thing, I mentioned two of the promotion events I’m doing are for free books. I set the books as free on all the platforms except Amazon. I was waiting a few days. However, someone must have requested a price match for The Good Girl Part One, because Amazon set it as free. As of this posting, it was #11 in Black & African American Romance and #14 Two-Hour Romance Short Reads. Seems like my plan is working.
Now all I need to do is finish the edits, format and continue with my launch plan. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
This has been a challenging last couple of weeks. I don’t know where the time went. I’m going to keep this short. First, I want to thank Jann Ryan for the nice interview a couple of days ago. The timing is perfect. Her post summed up what I wanted to write about.
When Jann approached me about the interview, I was working on The Good Girl Part Trois. I was a little behind and didn’t finish it until a little later. Once I finished, a major problem occurred… an unexpected additional book in the series.
News of another book should be a good thing, and it is. But when you don’t have a cover, it becomes a problem.
When I wrote The Good Girl Part One, I quickly found a cover image I liked. While looking for a cover for The Good Girl Part Deux, I came up with this idea to use the other half of her face for book two. When placed side by side, you saw her entire face. Then another book happened. But I had a problem. I was writing another book and didn’t have a cover.
I tried not to panic at the thought of not having a cover. I figured it would all work itself out, because book four wasn’t coming out until summer. I forgot Jann was going to need the cover for her post. Oh crap! I was on borrowed time. My immediate response was to wait until I released book four and change the covers for the first three books in the series. I figured I’d do a special promotion centered around the new covers. I had a plan. I didn’t say it was a good one, but it was a plan. I knew what I needed to do… redesign the series.
I found a new set of images and created a new set of covers. The new covers were nice, but I could never get the skin tone right. I submitted the new covers to one of my Facebook groups for feedback. I implemented the changes, but I couldn’t get the skin coloring right. These new covers were quickly becoming too much work. I reached out to a couple of my author friends, and they gave me some very good feedback. One even sent me a photo suggestion. I used it to troll depositphotos.com searching for similar images. Within a few hours, I had images I liked, which could easily be tweaked.
This may not sound like a big deal for most authors, but it is for me. I haven’t committed to custom images yet, so I try to find images I can tweak to look like African Americans or AA images that haven’t been overused.
The new covers for The Good Girl Series are very contemporary, which I love. They change the entire feel of the series. As much as I didn’t want to change the covers, I knew it was for the better.
What do you think?
Old Covers – These were the first updates from 2018
See you next month.
Happy New Year. I hope you had a wonderful holiday.
This morning I woke up to a daunting historical fact. Five years ago, I made a rather strange decision or idea to publish a title a month for a year. I’ve spoken about this project several times over the past years. When I set out to do it, I had one main reason, to sell more books.
I heard the best way to gain readers and sell more books was to write more books. I also heard it was easier to do advertising with more than one book.
When 2016 started I had one full-length novel, a novella and a novelette. What I didn’t have was a completed series, or at least a duet. I now know that was a big mistake. If I were to ever do another challenge like that, it would center around one series.
I have learned a lot about writing and publishing books. I think I finally have a handle on my writing style and what my readers expect from me. I write books that aren’t necessarily written to market. In my books someone is always wrestling with their feelings, raging hormones and how they mix with their faith. I like to hook my reader with something a little sweet and sassy so they can get to know the characters. The heat levels grow as the series progresses. In my writing world, the characters need to read like real people. It should feel like you’re reading about someone the reader would actually know.
I have three series and two duets I need to tie up. I’m not saying I’m going to tie up all of these collections this year, but I’m going to try.
I’m also guilty of using cliffhangers…another thing I tried to sell books. I think it would have been successful if I’d immediately released the next book in the series.
Last year I didn’t release a book and my sales suffered as a result. What did I learn from this…no new book and a lack of marketing my backlist leads to no money. I did however, participate in some incredible free promotions which gave me awesome results. My book Unexpected Love was #1 in one of my categories on Amazon US and UK for three days. I was on the roof. Both of my other books peaked in the top ten of their categories.
These promotions yielded several thousand downloads and sales which I loved.
I take responsibility for my low sales, because I failed to do adequate marketing and advertising. I refuse to kick myself for not sticking to my production schedule. I was distracted by a little thing called COVID-19.
So what is my plan for this year? I’m not quite sure. I know I’ll be releasing a book in February. My goal is to release the next in that series approximately three months later. I’ll also be releasing new covers for my Alex series as well as another book.
The other thing on my list is the follow up to Unexpected Love. I have the cover, title and eleven thousand words. Seeing several free copies have been downloaded and it ends in a cliffhanger, I need to release the follow up asap.
Before I start any writing plan for 2021, I’m going to take a few days, clear my head and make a reachable and achievable plan.
So what’s your author plan for 2021?
Happy December. I am excited to say I slayed my first NANO this year.
I’ve talked before about attempting to do NANO and my epic fails. This year, I made a decision and stuck with it. I am proud to say, not only did I do NANO, I hit the 50K word mark a few days ahead of schedule.
I kept a journal for the month. It was my way of staying on track. To summarize. My original plan was to take a few days off, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I wrote thirty days straight. There were a few days when I didn’t meet my word goal. Then there were days, when I got off of my writing schedule. I learned for the purpose of NANO, it was best for me to write in the morning. When I wrote in the afternoon or late in the evening, I got tired.
I also, learned some of my writing habits didn’t work during NANO. When I write love scenes, I usually write to music. However, during NANO, the music seemed to slow the love scenes down, but helped with the rest of the story. I think the reason some of my normal habits [music, the occasional glass of wine, writing at night] didn’t work was because I felt pressured to complete the task.
I have to be honest. I wrote fifty words during the month. Actually, it was 51,000+. I could have ended the story at 50K. However, it would have been a major cliffhanger and I promised my readers I wouldn’t give them another cliffy with this series. I think somewhere around the 30K mark, I realized the story wouldn’t be done at the end of the month. I did however know I’d make the 50K word challenge without a problem.
Do I like the story? Yes. I love the story. The only problem I’m having is that if I don’t get a hold of the characters, another book will pop out. I really want to end the series with this book. I never intended for this series to go beyond three books. When I wrote the first novella, I intentionally left it with a cliffhanger. I never expected, the second novella to end with a cliffy, but it did.
When I started writing book three, last year’s NANO attempt, I assumed it would tie up all the loose ends. The joke was on me. When I got to the last couple of chapters, it became obvious another book was on the way.
When I got inspired to do NANO, I knew this was the perfect push I needed to write book four. I also had a few thousand words to start with. I understand the point of NANO is to write a book. I wasn’t sure if it was a new story or complete a story. I asked around and got great feedback. In the end, I basically started from scratch. I think I may have used a couple hundred of the original words I carried over from book three. The rest were all new.
What’s the status of my NANO book? I’m approximately 20K words away from the end. I’m trying hard to end the series with this book, but if I don’t, I look forward to hearing what these characters have to say.
Will I do NANO again? Yes. And to make sure I do, I’m adding it to my production schedule for 2021.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
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