Tag Archives: self publishing

My 2021 Assessment

This is an annual event here at Entertaining Stories. Before writing this, I read back through the last few years of assessments, along with business plans for coming years. What surprised me is how positive and professional they came across. That isn’t the case this year.

2021 can…

Most of this involves things in my personal life that I really can’t post about. Old What’s Her Face and I each had our own health scares this year. Hers is fine, but mine remains a bit of an unknown. I have a January appointment for follow up that I may, or may not, keep. There have been major changes in the workplace, and my father passed away on December 2nd. Recently, our grandson developed a major problem that isn’t completely solved yet. This stuff hits hard.

Most of this has been a lingering problem for the last two years. It all seemed to merge at once, kind of like one of those gigantic freeway crashes we see on the news every couple of years. There is nothing I can do about most of it, so I have to compartmentalize and deal with it as best I can.

Having said that, this used to be a writing blog, and this is a business assessment. My plan said I would only release two books in 2021, and I hit that goal. Both Lunar Boogie and Wreck of the Lanternfish are available right now. Lanternfish is still in the throes of a more demure blog tour as I write this.

Looks like this year was all about series work. I’m kind of proud of that, and frightened at the same time. I miss my stand-alone stories, and want to try writing another one of those eventually.

Publishing two, instead of three, gave me more time to experiment with other things. This was a 2021 goal and I achieved that, too. First came a summertime experiment involving two stand-alone titles; Grinders and Serang. Confession, Serang ties right into the Lanternfish trilogy.

This all stemmed from an invitation to appear on Fresh Ink Group’s blog talk radio program. I really didn’t do a lot of promo around this, but it worked out fairly well. I gave away a ton of free books, but only Serang seemed to gain reviews after the fact.

This allowed me to fine tune my plan. When October came around, I decided there are four volumes in The Hat Series. There were four weeks in the month, and a new plan got launched. I promoted each volume for a week, and ran free days for two of them. This worked even better.

I moved another ton of free books, but this time there was someplace else for readers to go. To be honest, I’m still seeing sales from the October push. It seems the crack-dealer method still has some life in it. A freebie leads to purchasing additional stories. I also combined my free days with a push by The Fussy Librarian. I can see the difference, and will probably use them again.

One of the other things I did was post more at the outer fringes of my circle. Let’s face it, my inner circle already hosted me when each volume was originally released. Since we tend to follow the same people, blog tours can become like listening to a broken record. (Wow, is that a dated statement these days.)

One of the things I noticed, and my inner circle confirmed, is that Amazon’s Pages Read seem to be where all the action is. It seems to have surpassed my actual sales, but Amazon pays me and the readers are getting to read for free. I don’t know what this means, or how to use it, but it’s an interesting observation. Maybe I can find a way to milk this like a prize cow.

With two book releases, and two month-long promo tours, there was a lot of promo. Every tour post was unique, so I was blogging, but it was all hosted elsewhere.

This final bit of December promo comes with an observation. The release of Wreck of the Lanternfish is showing an equal volume of sales for the previous volumes in the series. Could this signal that trilogies are more of a sweet spot than I anticipated? Are there a larger group that won’t start a series until they know it’s complete?

I managed to keep up with my Story Empire responsibilities, and feel like they were successful posts. Entertaining Stories suffered the most. I love this site, and want to stay in touch with everyone here. With all the life issues (particularly the life issues), combined with the extra promo, something had to give.

To be honest, I want to spend more time at the Writing Cabin and maybe even let the Research Sirens steal me away for a while. Until some things settle down, that isn’t realistic.

I have been less than creative for the last six months, but have dabbled with a side project. I don’t want to push anywhere until my personal life settles down. I’m taking life one day at a time right now.

I could be alone here, but 2020 was a better year for me. I don’t ever want to see another one like 2021.

Talk to me in the comments. I really love you guys and would like to get back to more regular interaction here.

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Executive Decision

I really didn’t want to publish Lunar Boogie over a weekend, but reality hit me sometime Saturday night.

Once I go back to the office, I’m not going to have any time to deal with things. To deal with those things, I needed a purchase link.

Amazon can take up to three days to push a new story through it’s mill, and that’s happened to me before. I went ahead and pulled the trigger Saturday night.

Now I can update my banner (Cool full moon), the sidebar, claim the book on BookBub and others. I still need to do it on Goodreads, but could find time today.

A link also lets me finalize any tour posts before sending them out. These are all things I can’t do during the work week.

For your reading pleasure, you can check out the sidebar for a link to the new story.

This is also the direct link: http://mybook.to/LunarBoogie

It’s a book now. Lisa Burton and I will be touring it around for a few weeks, and I hope to see you along the route. I’ll be sharing those posts here so they’re easy to find. Each post is unique, so they won’t get repetitive.

I hope everyone will give it a chance. Short novel length, dark humor, characters that everyone has enjoyed before. Check it out.

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Question for the masses

If there were a book that looked a whole lot like this, would you read it?

The Hat Series, Lizzie and the hat

I mention this, because it’s probably coming next week. Lizzie and the hat are chasing a new monster for them. Werewolves are tragic, and Lizzie has a problem with this. The human part of the monster has no idea what happens a couple of nights per month.

I’ll probably pull the trigger on Sunday night. Weekends aren’t the best time to publish, but they’re all I have so I’m making due. I’ll spend the weekend getting blog tour posts ready, then hit some of you up to host me if you’re game. I already have a bunch of offers.

Early sales are important, so I’d appreciate it if you’d consider that. You can read it this fall if you like, but Amazon takes those early sales into account. Also, Otto needs a new ball if you know what I mean.

Watch this space for more information. I’ll update the side bar and such with the new book and link once I have it. I’ll make every tour stop unique, so they’ll be worth reading. I can also reblog to support my hosts without sharing the same material every time.

So yay! Cover reveal! New book coming, and I’m excited to publish one this month before school lets out.

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Wrapping up my long weekend

I already posted about all the family things and the Kentucky Derby. I didn’t get a mountain of stuff accomplished, but there is some.

I decided to put Lunar Boogie through Amazon’s machine. I like the way I can save a draft, review things, but not actually publish it. Stories in the hat series always have some last minute formatting issues. This is due to all the little graphics that go along with the stories. I even tried to use emojis at one point, but they didn’t translate.

I sent a message off to my formatter, and we’ll see what she can do about it. A few of the standard graphics moved around, too. That’s normal, and it’s nice to have a week or two to address everything.

I like to keep doing corny things in this series, because it’s part of the charm. Readers expect it, and it’s nice to change it up from time to time. I have plans to photograph a text thread eventually, then include it in a future book. Adding a photo should be just like adding a drawing.

I turned my attention to blog tour posts. Whenever I take a book on tour, I like to make every post unique. That way, I never feel bad about reblogging them all. They are more than a cover and blurb type post, and eventually I might snag a reader along the way. I have six written so far, but need a few more.

This morning, I turned my attention back to Lanternfish. It was moderately successful and involved Diego Palumbo doing some advance scouting and spying for Serang’s army. I created an unplanned situation that I like, but now I have to figure out what to do with it.

Diego tried to sell information to the Crier’s Guild about the new Royal Governor of Prelonia. He didn’t know whether the story was true or not, but hoped their reaction would either confirm or deny the rumor for him. He wound up being offered a position as a town crier in Hollish territory.

Diego accepted just to get the free gold. Of course he was always going to return to Serang. However, he now has the trappings of a town crier. Since Diego and Camila are cons, he could use these to spread false news that could wind up benefiting the Prelonian war effort.

Honestly, this happened on the fly, and I need some time to think about it. It could add a fun aspect to the story. Oh, and I actually used the word “miasma” in a sentence. It’s a good old-fashioned word that seems to fit the era of a Lanternfish tale. I like it.

All told, it only amounted to about half a chapter. No word count to post, because it wasn’t that big. I think it was a good section, and now I have to put the results of his spying into action. That’s a project for a different weekend.

Back to the paycheck job tomorrow.

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How I spent my day

I started off setting up the old Mac, now that my work PC has been replaced by a laptop. The laptop gives me more versatility, and I have my desk back.

After the inevitable upgrades, I spent some time letting my email program catch up. All of that took a few hours. They weren’t wasted hours, we played ball with the dogs and did more regular things.

Then I knuckled down and put HMS Lanternfish through Amazon’s grist mill. This led me to adding the series data to Voyage of the Lanternfish, which I managed to screw up. It probably doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but I wanted to call it the Lanternfish Trilogy, and wound up submitting as the Lanternfish Series.

I decided to go with it at that point. It was that or wait a day, change book one again, then take a stab at book two. If I need to, I’ll change them later.

Right now, I’m waiting for the green light from Amazon. It can take up to 72 hours, so I’m not going to panic… much.

I’m doing something different this time. Since this is a series/trilogy, I can play some games. I’m going to run out Voyage of the Lanternfish as a freeby for the five days Amazon lets me. At the same time, I’m going to offer HMS Lanternfish as a 99¢ book. I completely stole some of this from John Howell. (Sorry, John.)

Pretty good deal if buyers time it right. Book one and two of the trilogy for a grand total of 99¢. My desire is to bring more readers in, maybe net some early reviews, and see what happens.

Book one will return to its regular price after my Amazon clock runs out, book two will remain 99¢ for a while longer, then I’m raising it to a reasonable price.

If everything looks like it’s working somewhat, I still have Serang that could be used as a free book to walk readers in, too. Watch for Lisa Burton. She has some new posters she’s taking on the road to help me out.

I may have a day or so lag time before I appear on any blogs. I need HMS Lanternfish to exist before I start the free promo on Voyage.

It’s a plan. No idea if it will work, but I have high hopes. My understanding is the second book often doesn’t perform well until the trilogy is complete. Maybe I can crack that nut just a tiny bit.

Watch this space. Pirates, sea battles, monsters, and root monsters are about to return. Oh, and there are some scary assed Japanese style ghosts included this time, too.

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Small Victories

I had to cut back an old rose bush this morning. Morning because of the incredible heat we’ve been having. Old What’s Her Face ran the wood chipper and it really helped with the cleanup. We have room for the fencing crew to work now and I think the rose will recover.

Then, I dedicated myself to the final read of Lanternfish. I found a few mistakes, but they’ve all been fixed. Then I built a title page, double checked the links in my back material, and mailed it off to my formatter.

I might even be ready to publish by next weekend. Honestly, I wanted this done in May, but it is what it is.

If you’re ready for another dose of root monsters, con men, and Serang, it’s getting close.

I have some new monsters and fantasy creatures in this one. Honestly, creating them is kind of fun.

There are also a few new lands to be explored. I tried to flesh those out as much as possible without turning it into a weird travelogue.

I’m going to take my time with promo. I haven’t even tried writing blog tour posts. I’ll do it, but I want the book available first. I have a couple of Lisa Burton posters in hand, so Lisa will be participating in the tour.

It may not seem like much, but small victories add up. I have the cover for The Ballad of Mrs. Molony in the works right now. If things work out, I can promote Lanternfish for a few weeks, then publish Mrs. Molony in time for the Halloween season.

I may keep it boring tomorrow, on purpose. I am supposed to be on a pseudo-break of some kind. Maybe Charles Bronson is killing people on television somewhere. If noting else, The Santa Clarita Diet is hilarious. It’s on Netflix, so I can watch multiple episodes at at time.

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It’s a staycation

One of the things I enjoy is writing. It makes sense that I would do some of it for relaxation. I worked on a lot of projects, but none of them involve drafting new material.

Yesterday I bought a ladder. Exciting, right? I have a nice six-footer, but have to stand on the top to change the lightbulbs in the living room. (You know that label that says never do this? I’ve been that guy.) Ten years ago that was fine, and I’ve been doing it all this time. Pushing sixty, I’m just not willing to do that any longer. (Plus 2020 doesn’t feel like the year to gamble.) I bought a nice eight-footer, and it’s a simple matter to change the bulbs without risking life and limb.

I collected all my critiques for Mrs. Molony and made changes based upon that input. After that, I sent out the next chapter. There isn’t much left to send out, and after that I’m sure my critique group will appreciate the break.

The short story got to the point where I’m changing things, then changing them back. That’s usually a sign that it’s time to set it free. I emailed it in to the publisher.

I’ll be dealing with Mrs. Molony, either going out or coming back, as it happens. I won’t touch Lanternfish until I get Mrs. Molony to that point.

It’s been months since I looked at the first chapters of Lanternfish, so I could start reading it. I’d love to get it out in a couple of weeks, so I don’t have to kill myself to get Mrs. Molony out for Halloween. Doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Halloween season is kind of a stick-pin, so the sooner the better for Lanternfish.

I also committed to hosting a friend. She sent me all the pieces, and I need to assemble it. That will probably be top priority tomorrow. I might even try some of it at the Toyota dealership. I have to take my truck for service early, but they have WiFi.

I also picked up a book I started months ago and read a chapter. Something is lost by doing it that way, but I admit to having a sneak peek at it before it was published. More reading is on my list during my break.

I don’t have to return to work until Monday, so other things on my list could happen. I need to start a storyboard for the final Lanternfish book. The next book about Lizzie and the hat could benefit from one, too.

Honestly, I still love my stand-alone titles, and I have I couple of nearly complete boards for two. I’m going to have to park on those because I’ve committed to series work for now. Halloween will be a stick-pin for one, and I want to conclude Lanternfish in 2021 as well.

I think I can accomplish more before I have to return to the office. Eventually, I’ll be down to storyboards and reading. That’s going to be nice, and will clear some room to get Lanternfish out the door.

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Action in the back catalog

I’ve been doing a lot of promotion lately. Considering I released two books in three months, it’s kind of understandable. Things are going well and both books are selling.

To be honest, promo wears me out. I’d rather talk about you guys than myself, but books die on the vine without this kind of thing.

This time out, I’m still going slow. John Howell hosted me today. If you missed the reblog, this is the link. I’m custom writing all the pieces once again. I have one post I need to write this weekend, and another I need to get close on. There are other folks I intend to ask this time out. Don’t want to wear out my welcome at any of the sites.

There is something interesting going on right now. I’m seeing action in my backlist. This is where authors used to make their living decades ago. That model kind of died off, but with ebooks it still has some validity.

Some of this is caused by Viral Blues. That’s the one that included a sequence of my previous characters in a story with Lizzie and The Hat. It’s possible that folks liked VB, and are interested in reading more about some of the characters that appeared in it. I hope so anyway.

Victoria Zigler published a nice post today that included a couple of my older titles. She’s an author herself and a big time supporter of independent authors. Here is the link to her post. I’d appreciate it if you’d run over there and leave her a comment. Check out her site while you’re there and browse her books, too.

I have a lot to think about with some of this. It’s a lot of promo since September, but there are some interesting results. It may be time to move the chain a bit.

When I’m hosted somewhere, I always try to reblog the post. This isn’t to shove it down your throat, I’m trying to drive traffic to those bloggers who were there for me. The hope is they get some good numbers on the day, and maybe my introduction will lead you to another cool blog you might enjoy.

These are positive thoughts, but they could be slightly off-base. Helping others, I’m all about that. However, I am also wearing my regulars out by doing it. Let’s face it, you know I have a new book by reading about it here before I even take it on tour.

I want to balance out gratitude for the favor and keeping my own site from becoming like a broken record. I’m always willing to host something for those who’ve helped me, and that’s also being nice.

Is a post, similar to this one, that includes a few links, easier to digest over here? I could do a weekly post with tour links and a bit of salesmanship, then have a more digestible schedule here for the rest of the week? Is that a balance between polite to my hosts and still respectful of my regulars?

Where is the chain today between polite and efficient? I’d really like to hear from some of you on this.

More promo seems to be working, and it’s something I ought to keep doing. (Who knows if I will, but I can see the results in the new titles and the backlist.) Is it appropriate to keep posting things around the Internet, but not reblog every single post? Will I irritate those who went out of their way for me? I would participate in the comments, and share like crazy on social media either way.

I’d like to see those older titles keep moving. I could run out a post about Yak Guy, or Panama on a monthly basis. Maybe step up Lanternfish when the second book in the series is near publication. Maybe I could prepare a backlist post and have someone host it where several older titles are included.

This is stuff all authors struggle with. Do you have any secrets here? Do you have an opinion about this stuff. I have followers that come here for more than sales-pitch. They like my bulldogs, my sourdough bread, and my backyard fruit trees. Some of you would rather visit the Idea Mill, than read another post about one of my books.

This has rambled on for long enough. I think you understand where I’m coming from. What suggestions do you guys have? What is appropriate these days? Talk to me. Chew me out. Tell me how to make polite changes. Tell me if you think I should not change anything.

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The fetal position

This weekend was one of those that makes me curl up and chew my nails. My original intention was to publish Serang, then start thinking of tour posts to let the world know about it.

Yesterday was a chore day. This involved two appointments at nearly the same time. Old What’s Her Face had an appointment to get her brakes worked on. This meant I had to put Otto and Frankie in my truck, pick her up at the dealership, then take Otto for his vaccinations.

After that, she needed to stop by the pet store, and that led to Otto wanting to meet everyone in town. Things take longer when he’s around. It’s like hanging out with a rock star… “Just one more picture.”

Another leg of the plan was to come home, load up some garbage the sanitation guys won’t pick up, then visit the dump on the way to get the other car. Didn’t work out.

We managed date night at a new restaurant, and while it was decent, it didn’t blow me away for the expense.

Today, our grandson came over and bagged leaves. This was all prearranged because he wanted to make some money. It’s actually kind of nice, because I didn’t have to do it, and he was excited about it.

I ran Serang through the Amazon Mill, and am waiting now. Again, I’m biting my lip to see what happens. I had slow Internet this morning, and the previewer was sketchy at best. I decided, since it does not have the fun graphics, like the hat stories, the formatting was probably great.

It also never flagged any spelling errors, and it should have. This is a fantasy, and even words like “Serang” ought to draw attention. Locations like Di Guo Quishi should have also been questioned. (WordPress just questioned it.)

I’m going on blind faith with Serang. Hope it really does look great, and that it is spelling error free. I might have to buy my own copy to find out how the formatting came across.

Right now, Old What’s Her Face is having a Hallmark Christmas. You know the ones where the blossoming business woman dumps her boyfriend who is an up-and-comer and has a future, because she went to a small town and met a guy in flannel who owns his own apple press.

Mr. Rock-Star is snoring on the floor beside my feet.

I expect to hear from Amazon tomorrow, and we have to make that trip to the dump. The truck is all loaded in the garage, and they aren’t open today. Tomorrow is my flex day, so email will tell me what to work on before my wife gets home. It could be tour posts, or it could be new words on my side project, Grinders.

After all that, I consider it a good weekend. We got a lot done, and I got to do some of my projects among the mix. Hope all of you had a great weekend, too.

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Peeking out

I’ve been admittedly quiet around here lately. This is because I’ve been appearing everywhere else. My local efforts haven’t been that interesting, so I’ll just brief on them.

I try to have a couple of posts per week out there, then spend my time supporting those. If you’ve hosted me, you may have seen all the Twitter action and such.

Every weekend, I try to contact a host or two, then write something specifically for them. This tour has been 100% unique material, even though the cover and blurb are the same.

There has also been a surge of interest in Lisa Burton Radio. This takes quite a bit of work, but I like to be there for my fellow authors. I’m not one of those who takes but never gives in that regard.

It honestly doesn’t sound like much, but it’s kept me hopping. I’m enjoying the baseball playoffs to no end this year, but many of those games find me with my iPad across my lap and trying to polish up a post during the game.

Some of you might wonder why you haven’t heard from me for this tour. I will send something if you like, but I have another book coming right on the heels of Viral Blues. I don’t want to wear my usual hosts out, but I’ll need places to promote that book, too.

Part of this weekend is dedicated to whipping Serang into final shape. Most of it involves adding a title and copyright page, a bit of back material, and a fast sweep of the tale itself. If I get everything done, that will make three publications for me this year. I think anyone would admit that’s a pretty busy 2019.

For now, it’s Viral Blues until the end of the month. It has a Halloween theme, and you can read it in a long day. I think it’s funny, and maybe you’d enjoy some seasonal reading.

With this schedule, something had to give. I’m sad to note there is no Macabre Macaroni this year. I never had to time to write some seasonal micro-fiction. Nobody appears to have noticed, but I hope you’re all having a fun Halloween season anyway. Here’s an old MM image of Lisa to hold you over.

Lisa Burton

Old What’s Her Face has a Pirates film festival on today. I adore these movies, and find the music inspirational. They also serve to remind me that I haven’t touched Lanternfish II in over a month. In a perfect world, I would finish this manuscript by the end of the month.

It’s about time for me to knock off, eat some Asian pears, drink a pumpkin beer and find some baseball. (So many Asian pears this year, and they’ve been better than any previous year.)

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