‘Tis the busy work season, and I’m not much in the mood for writing after work. The Inevitable Series is on pause at the moment, but I’ve been revisiting an old story that I started at the end of 2019. I had written over 20,000 words, but it needed some re-direction, and at the time, I needed to focus on my current series, so I shelved it. Now, it’s a welcome change. So, I’ve been bringing it to my writing critique group and slowly making edits to it. I think it’s a really enjoyable read, and keeps people moving. It’s vastly different from The Inevitable Series, which is why I’m working on it. Sometimes you need a breather from a project. This is one of those moments.
I’m still not running any ads, and I get next to no downloads/sales/listens. Yesterday I had a surprise purchase of my two published books. But, that’s about it. Thus, the importance of marketing. But I need to figure out how to not spend so much money on marketing to make it actually worth it. One day, I’d still like to give a Christmas bizarre a try, or something like that. But again, there are large upfront cost in stocking myself with enough books to sell.
I’m bleeding money into advertising, and it doesn’t convert. I’ve paused everything right now to evaluate what I want to do. Right now, I just don’t want to spend all this money and have no return. People had been downloading The Way They Fell (which is free), but no one was buying the next book.
Update on the YouTube audiobook:
I can’t say it’s been all that successful… with an average view time of 19:23, I think most people aren’t looking to invest in listening. How many listen that far out of pure curiosity and no intention of staying? Will those people return to listen later? I’m really not trying to market it at all, so we’ll see if it gains any traction down the road. YouTube is not an effective way to find audiobooks, so I don’t have huge hopes of being found there, but it’s worth a shot. I’ve seen other well established author perform well, but they already have a decent fan base to promote their content to (See the image below for the actual video statistics).
A while ago I got in touch with EarnestlyEston and mentioned that he might enjoy reading my book, and I’m glad to report that he did! He recorded a book chat on it here. It’s interesting to hear someone else talk about your book without any prompting. You get to hear what stood out to them, and how they interpret the story and characters. I’m grateful that he took the time to read a book from a small time author like myself.
My paying job has picked up so I haven’t worked much on book projects. I also had a massive dip in motivation, so things have been moving slowly. But I have the audiobook of The Way They Fell fully recorded and in a state I’m happy with. I don’t plan on doing any more major recording on it. I am currently working on rerecording mistakes and where pops and clicks from the mic distort my voice. I’m also sending it out to some beta listeners to hopefully catch any glaring mistakes I might have missed. When I am satisfied that it all sounds good, I then will do the fine editing of mouth noise removal and gross sounds the mouth unfortunately produces. Then, upload?
This first audiobook has taken me a long time, but I think all others after this will greatly benefit from the time I’ve spent on it (and of course this one too). My performance really improved, and I’ve learned a lot. The next ones will be even better, and should hopefully go by much quicker!
How many times do I have to record this chapter until I’m happy with it? Today I am annoyed at myself. I’ve recorded chapter 9 two times already, and both takes I am not happy with. Finding the perfect balance of voice fluctuation is a challenge, but so very important for the audio to be engaging. And I’m not the most expressive person normally, so I walk a fine line between sounds-good-while-I read-it and sounds-good-when-I-edit-it. I’ve recorded a few chapters twice, but this one has been the worst. Am I in a mood or something? What the heck.
That being said, the rest of the book sounds really good. I’m just annoyed at the moment and tired of reading the same frickin’ chapter over and over.
Also, marketing is hard, and is going to be expensive unless I can find some better way to do it. What will the ROI be? It’s not looking so great.
Grrr. Last night I found a pretty glaring mistake in the ebook. The pop-out table of contents (ToC) was wrong. It worked, but the text didn’t match the chapter titles.
This happened because I copied the ebook for Observing the Inevitable and changed the contents. I wanted the formatting to be consistent between both ebooks. Everything looked stinkin’ perfect when I was done, so I uploaded the new book. Well, on the back end, I had to update the ToC too, which I completely forgot. So The Way They Fell had chapter titles in the ToC from Observing the Inevitable. It is now fixed, but I am not pleased that I could overlook something so important. It’s good to get it all taken care of now, while less than a hundred people have downloaded it, but man, one is too many for this one. Anyone who has downloaded the faulty one may request a new ebook from me. I will gladly provide the updated book.
I’m in the process of uploading The Way They Fell to all the stores. I had a little hiccup with the paperback version and had to resubmit it, but nothing serious. With the paperback version, I spent more time on it than planned because after receiving a proof copy of the book, I decided I could make the font size larger, so I had to reformat it. It will make it easier to read. However, the font size for Observing the Inevitable will remain smaller to keep the book size down (it’s comparable to a mass-market printed paperback).
I did have to make some other changes to Observing the Inevitable, too. I had originally planned on it being book one, but I have now made it book two to make the reading order easier to understand. So that took a nice good chunk of time, editing the ebook and paperback, and uploading the changes to all the stores.
Work on the audiobook for The Way They Fell is in process, but the process is SLOW. It’s an incredible amount of work, especially since I’m not skilled at reading without mistakes (that being said, I think my reading voice is quite good). So it takes me two hours to read an hour’s worth of the book. That means I have to edit out an hour’s worth of mistakes…Then after that, I’ll go through and rerecord places that still had mistakes, or I thought my delivery needs improvement. Then after that will be yet another round of cleanup, as I remove all the mouth noises, pops, and clicks. I suspect this will take me up to 400hrs….but I hope not. I’m trying to track my time to see how long it actually takes. I’m around 10hrs right now.
Last week I sent the manuscript of The Way They Fell to a copyeditor. I should have it back in a few days, then I’ll get started on the ebook, paperback, and audiobook.
I recorded about 12 chapters for the Observing the Inevitable audiobook, however, I have decided I can do better. I’m learning how to be more engaging with my reading, and will be redoing it all. That’s the thing about this process (including the writing), I have to give myself room to learn and use the process to get better. It’s not about finishing as fast as I can. It’s about growing in skill, and producing the best content. And if that means I have to scrap a few hours of recordings, then so be it.
I’ve been editing quite a bit for one of my writing group members. Her story is really good, and I’m excited to help her finish. As of now, when she finishes, I’ll most likely be reading her audiobook as well. She was very impressed with my example narration, and I’m excited to be able to read her story as well.
I’m rewriting the end of The Way They Fell after some input that it wasn’t satisfying. When that’s done, I’ll be going over two characters’ transitions/growth throughout the story. One reader thought it was too sudden, so I want to take a look at it before moving on. Maybe one day this story will actually be finished. Gah!
Also, I’ve noticed that everyone and their mother decided to write a book in 2020. I’ll admit, it’s quite disheartening more than anything. I spend years working on a story, and now it’s a fad. Does that make me a self-publishing hipster? Anyway, I get the most discouraged when I think about my niche audience, and how hard it will be to sell my books, when I could have written some cozy romance and have people gobble it up. Although, to be fair, I read one person’s 2020 book, and thought it was a solid first draft, full of plenty of irks–they published it not long after. I spend a huge amount of time ensuring the quality of my story and my writing is good, and I have to remind myself that is how it should be. No cheating and pumping out stuff that is barely passable.
I’m running a little behind on my planned release schedule for the prequel. I hope to be done writing in August, where originally I was hoping it would be ready to publish at the end of the month. Now I’m shooting for September.
I still think this book is really good. Because the story is shorter, its easier to keep everything focused and the story moving. I’m exploring some different group dynamics in this one that are exciting to see unfold. Plus, I’ve been getting some great feedback, really making the details of the book even stronger.
The second draft of A Time Forgotten, my next book, is finished. Right now I have a few people reading it to comment on, so we’ll see what feedback I get. If all goes well, I might be close to submitting it to my copyeditor. I’ve been working on the paperback cover for the new book, too, so it’ll be ready when the contents are finished.
Their English is not good, despite claiming to be a translator.
A couple days ago, I finally got the proof copy of my book from Amazon. There are a few issues that I have been working on. The inside of the book looks pretty nice, but the font is too small and too thin. I bumped the size up and increased the weight to medium. The cover is the biggest problem. I had elected to try out the matte finish because, well, it feels nice. But the black colors of the image look terrible. So, I’m brightening the image up more, and I’m blurring the foreground less so there is just a little more detail to it, too. I’ll be going with a glossy finish to preserve the blacks. I posted pictures of the proof paperback on my Facebook page.
I’ve also been experimenting with ads for my book, which may be what brought you to this site in the first place. So far I am definitely spending more money than I’m making, but I’m continually trying to optimize my ads and landing pages to make sure people are getting the content they want (which I hope will be my book, mostly). I’ve managed Google ads before for a larger company, so I’m not completely inexperienced, but I will say that trying to get Google to track conversions has been stress inducing, and hasn’t worked. I’m advertising through Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, which all operate a little differently.
I got the manuscript back from my copy editor, and have the book roughly formatted for kindle. I am currently testing it out to make sure everything is working and present before uploading it to Amazon for publication. Unless something goes terribly wrong, it will be published this month! I’ve been tweaking the website a little more to prepare, got a Facebook page setup, and signed up on Amazon as an author. Once the ebook is done, I’ll move on to formatting the paperback, and then the audiobook. And, hopefully I can make some decent progress on draft two of the prequel. I got some decent feedback from my best alpha reader, Brent, and have already restructured the novella to clarify the story better.
Well, it doesn’t feel like a lot has happened, but I’m getting close to releasing 2 books! I just sent a finished first draft of the prequel to Observing the Inevitable to three people to read and give feedback on. The prequel is called A Time Forgotten, and you can check out the synopsis by clicking the link or going to the Books tab. Just last night I finished the cover for the prequel, so things are looking up!
Oh yeah, did I mention that I made my own book covers? Originally I was planning to hire someone, but I considered my own abilities in Photoshop and started tinkering. Soon enough I was making good progress toward something I liked. 40 hours later, maybe more, I had a finished cover (a note from the future: yeah, I still made plenty more little changes. It probably took me closer to 100 hours when accounting for the paperback cover, which I had to design the back of the book, too). Then . . . I did it again with the prequel cover, but it didn’t take quite as long.
About two weeks ago I sent Observing the Inevitable to a copy-editor. I came to a point where I said it is good enough, and that I can’t chase perfection forever–and quite frankly, I wanted to move on. That means that I might be publishing it live on Amazon in about a month. Once I get it back, I’ll review all the changes, then start formatting the ebook for kindle. I’ve started to teach myself how to format it so it looks nice, and all the extra stuff is working (like a clickable table of contents, and links to my website and other books). Since A Time Forgotten is 7x shorter, I will probably skip having it professionally edited. It is my long-term plan to make this novella $1, maybe free when it goes wide, we’ll see. I feel like having non-professionals edit it out of the kindness of their hearts is good enough. It’s also easy to update ebooks, so I can always fix the little stuff and re-upload the file if someone points out any mistakes we might miss.
I will be releasing on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited exclusively for a while. Staying exclusive to Amazon is not my long term plan, but I wanted to start small to get the hang of marketing. Plus, Amazon brings in about 80% of an authors income . . . I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts that convinced me this is not a good thing, but it’s what we have to work with right now.
Once I have the ebook and paperback versions up, next I’ll be moving on to narrating the audiobook, which will not be exclusive to Amazon.
My to-do has changed over the last few months, but the result will be the same: a published book (now two!).
My first book is currently being read by about 13 beta readers. While they are reading, I’m going through the book with my writing critique group once a week, though few chapters are left to comb through.
Once I hear back from the beta readers I’ll review their feedback. If it’s positive, then I might make a few changes based on their comments, then start looking for an editor. If the reaction is negative . . . well, this process might be a lot longer.
It’s important to me that I regard my readers, since ultimately this book is for a wider audience than myself. The beta readers will help me determine if it is enjoyable, and whether I achieved my writing goals. If people are not motivated to continue reading, then I consider that a failure on my part, and I’ll have to go back and make larger revisions.
However, I’m optimistic. This is my third draft, and my writing has come a long way in the 3 years it has taken me to get this far.
There have been unexpected challenges to working with beta readers. I opted to use Facebook Messenger as my primary communication because I thought that would be easiest. It has, and it hasn’t been successful. Several of my readers hadn’t begun reading because they either didn’t see my message with the attached book files, or technical errors kept them from opening it. This was not communicated to me until I followed up with each person individually 2 weeks later. Many people have gotten caught up with life too (which is expected), and have not read any of the book. So, for my next project, I think I’ll use email and send to a larger group to ensure its delivery. This way, I can count on maybe half the people reading it and still have enough feedback to be helpful.
While waiting for my beta readers to finish reading, I have started another book. It is a separate series, and different genre altogether. Writing it has been significantly faster because it is more plot driven than my first book. At the moment, I have 27,653 words written, and my goal is a total length somewhere between 60,000-90,000 words.
Here’s a peak at my to-do list for my first book:
- Beta Readers
- Edit based on beta readers’ input
- Find an editor, send book for editing, then edit
- Have a cover designed. I already have a cover idea, but I’ll be open to the designers input
- Make an official business (this might be before the editor)
- Start a bank account for the business
- Add to Amazon/Kindle. At this point, I’m planning a soft launch, so adding the book to one site at a time will help me learn easier. Amazon is definitely the most profitable seller of books, so I’ll go exclusive with them at the beginning.
- Audiobook. I’m going to try to do it myself. Sounds fun.
- And … the dirty work. Marketing and promotion.