Tag Archives: promotion

Back to writing

Today was my flex day, and I intended to make the pixels fly. It didn’t exactly work out that way, but I’ll take it.

I decided to bounce back to Lanternfish. I’m right on the cusp of starting the end game of this book, which is the second of a trilogy. There were just a few bits of scene setting that I needed to address.

Don’t laugh, but I found a picture on Pinterest that relates to one of my characters. This will make a good Lisa Burton promotional poster, so I decided to write it into the tale. I even found some particular shoes this character needed. You never can tell what will inspire me.

Doing this gave me the opportunity for a root monster adventure, and I’m pretty happy with how that turned out, too. The downside is I didn’t crack 2000 words. I had a whole day, but it seemed to take forever to get all this down.

I’m happy with what I produced, and that’s what counts. I had the chance to write more, but quality matters and I feel this is good stuff.

I also ordered a cover and three Lisa Burton Posters from Sean Harrington. Both Lanternfish and Mrs. Molony are at about the same stage of completion. I had to pick one, so I went with Lanternfish. I sent Sean the ideas I have for the cover, and think it will look pretty cool. Now I need to wait patiently. I also have some great ideas for Lisa’s art, but those will have to happen after the cover comes.

In other news, I haven’t been on Twitter for two weeks now. I was a daily user, but it takes so much time. I’ve been tweeting out everyone’s blog posts and will continue to do so. I had some support over there and failed to reciprocate. I also had some new followers, and need to do something about all of them.

I checked in today and did what I could. I promise to try harder in the future. Twitter has been mildly productive for me, so I need to keep up on it.

I also sent off a promotional post for Grinders. It should go live by the end of the week, and I’ll share it here. I think it’s a good post and hope it draws some attention.

Tomorrow is another work from home day for me, so that’s about all I can manage. I got permission to take some time off at the end of the week, and may use some leave. I have hundreds of hours of leave available, and should use a little of it. It caps eventually. In that case, maybe I can move one of my stories ahead. That short story needs some attention and I should focus there.

Should focus doesn’t absolutely mean I will, but it kind of sounds like a plan. Sort of???

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Vacation day

This is one of the busiest weeks of the year for us at work. With everything pretty much settled now, I decided to take today off.

I didn’t have any specific goals other than not having to get up and commute. This week began with a return to Daylight Savings Time, included a full moon, and ends with Friday the 13th. None of those are particularly troubling. In fact, I published Viral Blues the last time Friday the 13th rolled around.

The news is depressing with all the viral scares going around. I was looking forward to baseball season, so that’s kind of disappointing. I understand why they’re making all these changes, but I don’t have to like it.

Fortunately for me, there is the writing thing. I need to address some critiques I have back, but I don’t have them all. With that in mind, I decided to add more words. It wasn’t a banner day, but 1600 new words are more than I had when I got up this morning. I kind of like them, but always reassess when my next writing day begins.

The tour for Grinders is ongoing, and I needed to deliver some materials for that. I think it’s time well spent. No sense publishing these things if I don’t try to make people aware of them. This tour hasn’t been any more productive than any of the others, but there is one noticeable difference. I’m enjoying it more. By only having two posts per week, I don’t feel rushed and harried to cover all the comments and such. Comments have been great, too. There seem to be more of them this time.

This could actually be a good thing in the long run. I buy books by earmarking them in my head, then getting to them when I have some time. I don’t always remember all the things I was interested in, and sometimes a reminder will send me running to Amazon. Perhaps, by spreading the posts out, I can have those little reminders online for those who are more like me.

Two years ago, I decided that writing my next book was my best source of promotion. It seems to be working to a degree. My backlist is getting more action than it ever has. It isn’t a lot, but it’s noticeable. More publications means I’m out there more frequently than ever before. Phase two of this idea will be some “specials” when my series books are ready to come out. It’s possible I might weave in a free day for one of the older titles, too. That’s all speculation. My main goal is to get the next Lanternfish book ready to set sail.

Those 1600 word might be all I accomplish this weekend. There could be a few more, but the story has moved to a point where I’m not stressing about it. If I can’t get it finished before Summer, I may just release it in the middle of Summer. I never have great luck with Summer releases, but I’ve been told the middle of a trilogy is a tough sell anyway. They usually don’t move until the series concludes.

I’m open to suggestions on that point. Let me hear from you in the comments. I’d like to learn your release day and promo secrets.

Oh, Public Service Announcement: Hiding in the closet with a copy of Grinders is a great way to spend the weekend and will not expose you to Corona Virus. It’s an E-book, so you can’t substitute it for toilet paper, but you won’t want to after you get into it.

On one of my last posts I tossed a photo of Otto out there to draw interest. Frankie demanded equal time, so here she is on one of the rare times when she pauses in her playing.

Being good, temporarily.

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Busy, but productive

I started my week off with a visit to Mae Clair’s blog. I ended it with a stop by John Howell’s place. These were both stops to promote Grinders. A couple per week is much easier to manage than the dozen or so I’ve done in the past. I still intend to put out a decent number of them, but I’m going to spread them out a bit more.

Lisa Burton went back on the air somewhere in the middle to host Charles Yallowitz. He also has a new book out, so if you haven’t stopped by Lisa Burton Radio, you probably should.

All of these fine people loaned me their space, or have agreed to soon. I would appreciate it if you’d stop by their places and check them out. Maybe you’ll find a cool new blogger to follow. They’re all accomplished authors, so you might find some great reading there, too.

Today, I focused on producing more tour posts for Grinders, but at two per week it was much less stressful. I’m making every post unique, and that allows me to reblog them without sounding like a broken record. More like a wounded record, maybe.

I also made a new pinned tweet. I’m a big believer in the pinned tweet, and regularly share those of my friends and supporters. That’s why I’m embarrassed to admit that I forgot to make one for Serang. Maybe if I hit the Summer doldrums I can toss one out for that story. It isn’t like I don’t have some great artwork to add to it. I’m not much of an artist, but I can cobble together something presentable.

I also worked through critiques for two different projects. My side project was pretty easy, but Lanternfish took some effort. My group helped me make this section so much better, and I owe them a huge debt. Both projects are ready for new words, and I may add some tomorrow. I have some fun research that I need to shoehorn into Lanternfish somehow.

Today I cleared my decks. No idea where tomorrow will lead me, and I don’t really have a plan for it. I’ll check in with all my hosted posts and might even manage some new words. Hope all of you have a great weekend ahead of you.

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Well, it happened

WordPress updated their app to the new block editor. There was the old editor which worked extremely well. Then there was the new editor which everyone hated, causing them to dig deep and keep using the old editor. Then the new block editor came along AKA Gutenberg.

For the most part, everyone hates this one, too. I figured I’d have to adapt or die, so I used it earlier today. I’m using it right now. As far as text goes, it’s no big deal.

My first experience was assembling a promotion post for a friend. I prepared and scheduled it here, then opened the old editor to add links and graphics. That’s workable, but not as cool as being able to do it all here. I like to left justify book covers and author photos. I’m going to try an experiment right here. I want to add a left justified image to this block of text. – Nope. Didn’t work. It can go above or below this paragraph, but not left justified right here.

I started writing my next Story Empire post. This one is about The Herald character. There is a certain amount of research that goes into these, too. It’s part of my Character Archetypes series over there. If you missed out on The Ally, you can click the link in this paragraph.

I’m also dabbling at some promotion for Grinders. Once again, I’m trying something new. This time I prepared a list of topics. I’m emailing that list around to my hosts. Once they choose, I’ll write the post, then do a strike-through on that topic, and add the date it will post. This is an attempt to spread promo out, keep each post original, and avoid traffic when everyone posts at once. Might work well – might be a complete disaster, but I’m doing it this way.

After I sort out each one, I’ll forward the list to my next host and let them choose. Maybe this way I can keep it going for two weeks, and won’t have to reblog several posts in one day. I’m also staying open to suggestions, because maybe someone has a theme going on their specific blog, and I can custom write something for that.

Early sales and reviews matter for a book. If you might be interested in Grinders, the image in the sidebar is linked. I think people are going to like this one, but I always feel that way. Other things you can do are to add it on Goodreads, express interest in it on BookBub, and to share it on your social media.

I don’t see myself getting any new words down this weekend. I only get two days, and Sundays are always tougher. Maybe I can get more posts about Grinders prepared and have those ready.

Today is Mom’s birthday, so I called her. I’ll still call them tomorrow. I like to stay in touch, and if some small bit of time is what it costs, it’s worth it.

We’re going to work in a small date night tonight, and might rent a movie. I also need to pay the bills sometime this weekend. Mundane stuff, but it all matters.

Hope you guys are having a good weekend out there doing some fun things.

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2019, I’m calling it a success

I always try to do a year end assessment this time of year, then follow it up with a business plan in the new year. This is the assessment post.

My goals for 2019 were to step back from social media a bit and to explore sequels in my stories. In this, I was successful. I used to make custom tweets and make time to share them, make the occasional post on all the other formats out there, but honestly, they accomplish nothing. I keep these formats, and this blog auto-feeds to them, but the main goal is to point people here.

Currently, social media is for my own entertainment, but I try to share favors. Meaning, if someone tweets about my books, I try to follow and share their pinned tweet. I like finding out about all the baseball trades, bulldog pictures, and simple stuff on Facebook, but that’s about all it’s good for. I joined a big group event on Facebook that was promoted like an online trade show. It was a total failure, and I won’t make that mistake again.

I stopped paying for Facebook ads and Amazon ads last year. They never really did much, and the last few times they did nothing. My promotional efforts these days are in the form of blog tours, and a promotion company. Even then, I don’t always hire the promo firm.

When I released The Hat, the promo company really paid off. I got a bunch of early reviews, and sales were great. Things really tapered off after that. I used them for Viral Blues this year, and got one review from the NetGalley portion of the bundle.

As far as exploring sequels and series work, I count it as a major success. Success means different things to different people, so some explanation is in order. I’ll include covers and links, but I’m skipping the blurbs. This isn’t about promo, but assessment.

The first thing I published was Voyage of the Lanternfish. This is a crazy pirate fantasy with magic, monsters, and gunpowder. I’ve heard the term Flintlock Fantasy thrown around, and that might be a reasonable description.

It’s important to note this is not a sequel to anything. It’s the original book in what is destined to become a series. I published it on New Year’s Day, so it counts as 2019.

This book sold fairly well, and the comments I got on it led me to the trilogy idea. Reviews are lagging, so I’m a bit concerned.

Something else came up in a lot of the discussion. Two characters clicked with people, and they came up a lot. One isn’t so much a character as a collection of root monsters. I count them as one, because they function in swarm capacity during the action scenes. In my mind, they were just a bit of silliness to fill in the corners while Lanternfish was on a long sea voyage. Kind of like how Scrat fills out the edges of the Ice Age films. However, people loved them. I even had one ask for a root monster stand-alone book.

I don’t see that happening, because some of my over-the-top characters are better in small doses. A little is wonderful, too much can lead to brain damage.

Once I decided this could fit the classic trilogy format, I panicked a little. It would take at least a year to produce the next volume, and likely more than that. How am I going to keep fans interested during that time? This is where the other standout character came into play.

Lanternfish is set in a fantasy environment, mostly because I want to avoid comparison with Pirates of the Caribbean. There are some parallels to real world places, and it isn’t hard to understand that Serang is from pseudo-China. Her character, and this part of the world, made it easy to write her story.

Serang was raised by monks, then fled the country to become a pirate – kind of. This is a stand alone title, but it supports the Lanternfish environment. My hope is that Lanternfish fans will learn more about Serang by reading her book, and that it will tide them over until HMS Lanternfish is ready in 2020.

There is also a chance that people will read Serang first, then follow her into the Lanternfish stories.

Honestly, I dropped the ball on promotion of Serang. I released her story about 60 days after Viral Blues, and did an extensive tour for it. (More on that later.) When Serang published, I worried about my regulars suffering from tour fatigue. I took her on tour, but cut it short as a business decision. I also did not use the promo company for her story.

As of this writing, she only has four reviews on Amazon. This is partially because Amazon won’t let some people post reviews. They can still post on BookBub and Goodreads, and she’s doing better there. It seems odd to me, because these people review a mountain of books. It isn’t like they’re all shills for C. S. Boyack, but there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

I think she deserves better, and all of the reviews have been glowing.

The third book was a true sequel. My first one. It’s called Viral Blues, and is the follow up story to The Hat. The Hat sold incredibly well, and is the best reviewed book I have. Because of this, I thought Viral Blues would do better than it did. I paid the promo company for this story, and pushed the hell out of it around the Halloween season. It did well, but maybe I expected too much.

Lizzie and The Hat are back, but so are a bunch of old favorite characters. I’ve gotten some nice comments about Lisa Burton returning to a story, and admit she’s kind of a scene stealer at times. I’ve also gotten some great comments on Clovis. Both of these characters came with existing fans, so it was fun putting them in a new tale. Lizzie and The Hat carry the story, but it’s kind of like a superhero team-up.

I doubt there will ever be another story like Viral Blues, but it was a blast to create it. Lizzie and The Hat will go on, but it will be in their own adventures. These stories are paranormal with a lot of dark humor and snark.

I don’t want to jump ahead to my Business Plan, but I have some fun ideas for Lizzie and The Hat.

My goals for the two series are different. When it comes to Lanternfish, a trilogy almost demands prerequisite reading to carry on with the story. Stories about The Hat, can be read as stand-alone volumes with more available if you enjoyed the one you picked.

My Story Empire friends helped me scratch out some branding ideas for the series. With Lanternfish, there is no mistaking that figurehead. If it appears on all the covers, that should be good enough. When it comes to The Hat, I commissioned a small badge I can include on all the subsequent tales. It’s Lizzie playing her upright bass. It’s just a small icon that will let readers know it’s part of the series.

When it comes to the other parts of writing, some things changed. With three publications, they almost had to. Writing all those tour posts takes time, even if they are excerpts. All of my tour posts are unique, so I don’t wear people out when I run out a new story.

***

I didn’t return to blog posts about the writing cabin until late Autumn. This was a mistake. It’s easier to blog about what I’ve been doing than it is to fictionalize the same information and converse with Lisa. However, my stats clearly demonstrate that readers prefer interaction with Lisa.

I didn’t post as many Idea Mill posts this year, and they performed well. I need to step it up on that front. All of us need ideas for our stories, and sharing the oddball things I stumble across is kind of fun.

I also skipped Macabre Macaroni this year. I was neck deep in promotion for Viral Blues during October, and didn’t have time to write scary micro-fiction for the blog. Honestly, it passed without much notice. It’s one of those things people love when it appears, but don’t seem to miss if it doesn’t. No idea what to think about this.

Lisa Burton Radio slipped a bit, too, but that was on purpose.  Here’s a bit of my thought process. Feel free to disagree with me, but I’m just being frank. As an author, I know how hard it is to find good free promotion. Even then, there is only so much you can do. Talk about your main character, maybe your antagonist, plot. Sometimes share an excerpt.

I created something unique, in that Lisa interviews the character of your choice. It’s different enough to draw attention, and they are always popular posts. I started out asking people to give me a chance. I even advertised on various sites to get guests. I wound up posting weekly without much gap for two years. We moved some books, too.

However, there is a downside. They take a lot of work to put together. This is a collaborative effort, and it eats into my time. Many times, the guest author never even shows up, or publishes one comment to the group in passing. These posts work when the author pushes the hell out of them. I have one guest who still tweets out his older post from a year ago. That’s how it’s done.

Lisa Burton Radio is still available upon request. I’m not begging for guests any more. It’s a choice slot, and you get out what you put into it. I’m using the time I gained to write my next book. If you’re interested, Lisa will be happy to talk with your character.

To close the year out, I did something I swore I’d never do again. I held some Amazon free days for one of my books. The Playground is an older title, but several characters from this book made an appearance in Viral Blues. It also has a loose Christmas theme behind it. Honestly, we moved a crap-ton of books. My stats even showed it reaching single digits on one of the categories. I could call it a best seller at 100, so at number 9 I was kind of impressed. What I’d like to see as fallout are people following Clovis and/or Gina over to Viral Blues. A few reviews would be nice, too.

It isn’t lost on me that Serang, Voyage of the Lanternfish, and The Hat could make timely free books when the sequels are ready for publication. Watching the fallout from my Playground promo closely to figure this out.

Obviously, there is more to life than my author career, but this is a writing blog. My life has health issues, pets, relationships, and a 40 hour-per-week job, too. This post is an assessment of my 2019 success and fumbles as an author. My goal has always been to entertain people for a few hours. It’s even the name of the blog. With that in mind, I think 2019 goes in the win column.

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Life goes on

While I was touring my book around, the world didn’t stop spinning around here. I worked, and we had some unusual visitors at the office. This little guy was photographed from my office window.

He didn’t stay long, but it was fun having him stop by. We also had this visitor, and it’s appropriate for the season.

My iPhone makes it tough to photograph something so tiny, but you can make out his little bat ears at the bottom of the image. He’s only about the size of a walnut, but it was cool seeing him.

In other news, I got the sprinkler system blown out. Old What’s Her Face is on her way home, and we have an appointment to get the camper winterized tomorrow. It seems like winter is determined to show up, so we need to get ready.

I finished reading a book and posted a review. I try to review whatever I read. I look at it like a karma kind of thing. Authors need reviews, so I ought to post them, too. I’ll probably start reading another one before my vacation ends.

New fiction is still taking a back seat. I haven’t written a new word in a month. I’m struggling with the production vs the promotion cycle. I love creating new stories, but hate the promotion part. Honestly, I don’t like getting promotion stuff either, so I assume many people are like me. (Maybe you aren’t, but that’s my mindset right now.)

The questions I’m struggling with are:

  • Should I just bury some of the stories I write? Publish the series work, and keep the stand alone things for myself.
  • What about blog only? I know some who’ve done this, but have no idea what kind of reception it gets. Is it appropriate to release a few chapters over a period of months, then publish, thereby, skipping any blog tour and such? Does this piss people off more?
  • Should I publish them with zero promotion? I know how that works out, but workmanlike promo for every other story could still draw attention.
  • I’ve learned how to write an incredible amount of new fiction. Should I go back to my old ways and produce less?
  • Would it be worthwhile to hold stories, then do a multiple book release with mutual promotion?

I’m interested in what you guys think, so speak up. Do you have any experience with these methods?

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A whole bunch of stuff

The weekend is upon me and I need to figure out what to do with it. This is my two day weekend, so I’m not planning any new fiction, not a single word.

I scrambled to come up with my next Story Empire post, and already have it scheduled for Monday. Then I found out I’m not only up Monday, I’m up Friday, too. This means I have to write and schedule one more. I ought to be able to handle this easily enough.

I also need to schedule a couple of promotional posts to go with my weekly theme. These are kind of fun, because I get to sift through a lot of fun music videos.

While I’m on the topic of blogging, I’ve seen something interesting in my stats again. I’m getting a bunch of weird searches leading to my blog. Sexually weird searches. I really have no idea why Google, or Bing, or whatever leads them here, but I have a message for them. “Hey you perverts! While you’re here…

Lisa Burton

Seriously, dudes, Lisa is about the most exciting thing you’re going to find here, so this image is for you. I suggest reading Yak Guy, it might actually help you with your lives.

Aside from blogging, I need to save a couple of files on the Mac. These are completely formatted manuscripts, and I can’t put them in a folder on this iPad. I usually save them to the Mac’s home screen so they’re easy to publish or email out. I plan on signing up for NetGalley again, and they’re just easier to send out that way.

I also need to contact the promoter I’ve used in the past. Like all things in the book world, they have a schedule, so if I want promo in October I need to contact them before October.

There is a folder in my email right now about a promo I’ve already signed up for. My goal is to fill out the form to the best of my ability, then send it back. I’ll have to send the purchase link after I actually have one. Fortunately, I’m on good terms with this host, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

If there is any time left, I’ll sort thought my victim volunteer list and figure out how many promotional blog posts I can write ahead of time.

Aside from that, I have one more critique of HMS Lanternfish to address. It isn’t super important, but if the hours are available I’ll deal with it. That ought to make a full weekend.

Next weekend isn’t looking super productive either, even though I get three days. It’s fair time, and we always go to the fair at least once. Sometimes author projects take a back seat. The thing is, that I don’t feel bad about it this time. I’ve been super productive this year and some family time has been well earned.

Wishing all of you a great weekend.

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