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Catrin Lewis's Progress Journal

Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by Catrin Lewis, Jul 17, 2014.

  1. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you first challenge in marketing is to sell outside your circle of friends. Once that has dried up, typically 20 to 100, sales can really slow down. Basically a newly published book on Amazon can rank quite high on the first few days when all your friends are buying then sales drop off and your rank will fall below 1M. Some cheap things I recommend that can reach a large audience (starting with free ones):
    1. post here under Member Publications, I don't know how big the subscriber list is but I would guess around a thousand, who have some loyalty to you and an interest in your genre.
    2. Goodreads is a way to get your book in front of a lot of readers, but you can't recommend your book to members, you need to get someone on the site to do so, perhaps by reading, reviewing and recommending their book, and asking them to return the favor.
    3. Make or buy business cards with your name and book titles on them, and your contact info. If you go to any events take them with you. If you chat someone up about your book, give them a card.
    4. Book signings can be held free at some oddball locations. To get books to my NAVAIR buddies in Patuxent River, I held one at a bar outside the gate, totally free. I sold to my friends and to some drop ins. I did my local watering hole where I am a Friday night regular, and my gym. All sold between 10-20 books. Going to a writers' conference, you can set up a signing at many, though don't expect to cover the cost of the conference: many are not cheap.
    5. I think my most successful marketing tool has been boosted facebook posts which can be as cheap as $25 and as pricey as you want it to be. I spent this month $70 for three facebook posts, a $25 boost for my short story which is not selling well, and a $50 dollar boost to a historical vignette in my E&D flagship. The last two I targeted US, four EU countries, UK, Canada, Australia, and India, and reached between the two 100K people, including some interesting exchanges with Indians who were amazed that an American would ever have heard of Bactria, much less King Vima Kadphises. Sales had a pretty good clip though no sales that I could definitely say went to any of these countries besides UK. My Bactrian boost just ended with 73,084 people reached, 13,714 interacted, to give you a feel.
    6. If you are good with spreadsheets, I suggest you set one up that tracks daily sales (Kindle & Paper) and KENP pages read, turned into free Kindles downloaded by dividing by your KENP book length (mine is 1100) so you can see total sales. If you like I can send you mine, minus the data. This also generates a graph. It is important that if you are paying money for advertising, that you can watch the sales change (or remain the same) for money spent, so you know what is getting results and what is not.

    Got to go celebrate Mother's Day and see you later, good luck


    Hope some of these things help,
     
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  2. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Grooooooooooannnnnn!

    With technical help from @KaTrian, I've got the first two double-spaced pages of my new novel Strong as Death knocked into shape for the Read and Critique session Friday night at the Pennwriters conference. Don't know what the panel will make of it, but I managed to complete a nice mini-arc on those pages and that has me pleased.

    But now I'm struggling with the synopsis to go with it. Yes, it's been good for me to be forced to think harder about the plot and figure out how it all ends instead of just "there's a big fight; the bad guys lose and the good guys live happily ever after." But blasted if I can make it fit on a half page! My romantic suspense plot is too twisty for that.

    I went online to see how long a typical novel synopsis is and came across one by thriller writer Chuck Sambuchino. And it's not fair: his is even longer than mine, 3/4 of the page instead of 5/8.

    Chuck Sambuchino is a professional writer. He's even going to be one of the speakers at the conference. What is this--- He gets to go on for nearly a whole page while I, a rank beginner, have to be so concise I fit it all in in one-half?

    Not fair not fair not fair!

    EDIT: I got Chuck Sambuchino mixed up with another writer named Chuck. He doesn't write thrillers; he writes humor, but his metier is "Freelance Editor . . . and Authority on How to Get Published." And he writes synopses professionally and does it quite well. They're still longer than I am allowed.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
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  3. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe if you made a list of every crucial, plot-twisting event and then rank them from the least important to the most important, and then mention only half of them in the synopsis? Or separate the main story line clearly from the side plots and then stick to only describing the main story?
     
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  4. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I think I have a synopsis that will fly. A lot of the solution was ignoring that whiny inner voice that kept saying, "But 'They' will expect you to explain why your FMC does this and how your MMC does that!" No. That doesn't matter. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

    It's printed out and attached to my first two pages. We'll see what the panel make of it tomorrow. I mean, tonight.
     
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  5. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Good news and bad news: The panel Friday night loved my synopsis. The formidable and assertive agent who always led off said mine was the best they saw in the group, hitting all the important points, with a clear plot arc. "And you put the names in all-caps. That's great!" (Thank you, Chuck S!)

    Bad news? They all thought I was starting the book in the wrong place. "Start where she needs to use the Krav Maga, not when she's just practicing." And there were too many references to back story.

    But that's good. I was wondering about the back story element, and it's useful to find out now that it doesn't work, before I start writing stuff downstream that needs the existing beginning to make sense.

    I wish I had the revised beginning firmly in my head, but I don't.

    It'll come. It'll come.
     
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  6. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    These days the progress I'm trying to make is with the cover for The Single Eye, and considering that I've been working at it pretty steadily since the third week in May, that progress is pretty darn slow.

    No, it doesn't look the same as it did then. My objective sense tells me it looks far better. What's slowing things down is my ever-decreasing confidence in what I'm doing.

    I mean, you need feedback, right? And I've asked for it, here in the thread on rolling my own in the publishing house line, on Facebook in the authors' group I belong to there, on my personal Facebook page, on Instagram, and in person.

    The reaction from ordinary people in person and online has been very positive. For them, it looks "real." They want to know when the book will be available for sale. They're asking if I've set up preorder. On Instagram I've had some nice Likes from professional designers. Very encouraging. But when it comes to my fellow-writers . . . ouch. The comments and critiques are all over the place, and what one person likes the other hates.

    I'm taking in the critique. I note where potential readers might be confused and alter the design accordingly. And I think what I have now is better than what I started with. It might even be Good Enough.

    But there's a sick perfectionist urge in me that whispers, "Keep working on it. Keep working on it. Even if it takes till next year or the year after. Keep working on it. You have to please everyone. You never will, it'll never be good enough, but you have to try." But I can't keep working on it. There's a point where I'm going to have to say This Is It, and I need to say it soon.

    A lot of people would advise me, "That's why you hire a cover artist and don't try to do it yourself." Yeah, but unless I could afford someone with the chops of a Chip Kidd, how do I know the cut-rate designer I've hired has designed me a cover that's all it should be? I've gotten to the point where even if my cover looked like the one on an Amazon No. 1 ten-week bestseller I'd still worry there were ten things wrong with it.

    It's sick. So I have to ignore the neurosis and the paranoia, and maybe my helpful critics, too. Which is why I'm not posting any more progress views. I can't let anyone give me the excuse to stay on this hamster wheel.

    I've done my best on it, the best I can at this stage. And I should be able to recognise that. After all, I've been an artist, architect, and graphic designer a lot longer than I've been a writer, and I've cranked out some very successful publicity pieces during my misspent career.

    And if I think of a way to improve my cover later, I can. Hey, that's the beauty of doing it myself.

    EDIT: I'd been working on it since the first week in May. Or maybe the middle of April. :ohno:
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2017
  7. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Encouragement,@Catrin Lewis, whichever way you go, I am sure it will be fantastic. I have a designer I could recommend, but I think at this point you need fewer options, not more. Keep up the good work, and go with your gut
     
  8. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Thanks, yes. The last thing I need is more options.

    Actually, I kind of wonder if I'm dithering about this because I'm afraid to publish. It's not that I'm worried about the novel and the way it's written, it's more that there's something so exposed about putting yourself out there as an author and I dread it. I mean, who am I to claim to be that? My whole life has been about keeping my head down unless I really have to do otherwise.
     
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  9. Stormburn

    Stormburn Active Member

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    I've just picked up on your journal and its interesting to follow your progress. Its amazing just how varied the paths that follow the same road.
    Before I joined the U.S. Army I was a graphic artist and an art director. While people can be fundamentally capable in a number of skills, I always searched for those who are blessed with talent. Find the right artist and you will be amazed at what they can do.
    Thanks for letting us join you on your journal. Godspeed!
     
  10. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    When it comes time for final edits, I definitely recommend pasting large chunks into an app/website/facility like ttsreader.com and letting its computerized voice read your manuscript back to you.

    I also recommend not following along with your text as it does it. Do something else instead, like washing the dishes. Or sorting the laundry. Or--- or--- working on your book's cover. In fact, don't pay too close attention to the read-back at all.

    That way, it'll bother you more when your characters, plural, use the same darn expression over and over. (In my case, it's the word "Oh." They all do it. Incessantly.) It'll jolt you when the grammar is off, as when I'd mistyped "lost" for "lose." (This'll work for lose/loose, too.) And you'll notice when the story starts to drag. Mine did it in Chapter 3, which was mostly backstory. I've deleted the flashback and I'm working the info in elsewhere. Lots of elsewheres.

    Every time the text-to-speech reader throws out one of these clinkers, I pause it and make the correction. If I didn't do it right away, I'd forget.

    I'm a little short of halfway through listening to The Single Eye. It's on Pause for the time being, because it's made me aware that even though my villain isn't physically present in certain middle chapters, he needs to be mentally and psychologically present. My protags can't be permitted to forget about him altogether, my goodness, no. So I'm working some villain hauntings in.
     
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  11. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Been there, done that! Dithered like hell last fall, wondering if E&D was as good as my beta readers said, worrying if it would fall with a resounding thud on Amazon to go wherever unread books go.

    It didn't and yours won't either, so buck it up, girl, the end is in site!
     
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  12. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    A few days ago I got a mindbug that my hero doesn't face enough challenges in the third act of my four-act novel. I thought of a perfectly juicy thing to happen to him, except it doesn't happen to him, it happens to his two best clients--- they're nearly killed and the job he's doing for them nearly goes away. The villain's at fault, of course, and his motive is to take away all my hero's support so when the villain gets hold of him he'll have no choice but to throw his lot in with his evil schemes and end up just like him.

    I spent a good two or three hours writing up this new idea, time I really don't have because I have some serious personal business to take care of and there's only a limited amount of time for me to take care of it.

    But on my way to work it hit me that this change might throw the whole story off balance. Because why? Because another man, a would-be client of my hero's, is killed by one of the villain's agents a few chapters later. If three men associated with him end up in danger of their lives, even he is going to have to wake up and at least start regarding himself as bad luck. Even if he doesn't suspect the villain (and he won't, since the villain has given it out that he's dead), all this will open his eyes. And my plot dictates that he go through this period thinking things are fine. He can't have his big moment of self-realization till the climax: that he was so focused in on his work that he was blind to everything that was going on around him. "I just didn't want to see."

    Gah. Maybe instead of having the attempts on the two clients' lives nearly succeed, I'll have them go astray in weird ways.

    I have time to think about it.
     
  13. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I've figured out how to tone down the change I was thinking of, so we don't get three dead (or nearly-dead) bodies in a row. Some plots, that would work in. This one, not so much. All I need is to make the MMC nervous, but not so nervous he can't keep his head buried in his own concerns awhile longer. I believe my new idea will do that.

    Next challenge is to write it up without bloating an already-lengthy story. And how to make a smooth transition into the next chapter in the ms as it now exists.

    (Actually, the next challenge is to get myself off this site and complete some crucial non-writing business that needs done before the weekend is over.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017 at 8:07 AM
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  14. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Well, I've written my revision. A whole new chapter of 2,400+ words, plus the little edits before and after to foreshadow it and to show its consequences.

    Well, no, the downstream edits aren't all done yet. And some of those are new things in their own right.

    Oh, gosh, this novel is going to be sooooo long, and I can't do a thing about it. All I can say is, the reader will get his or her money's worth.
     
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  15. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Hoped to get the edits downstream of my revision done today (well, yesterday, by now). But I'm in a spot where it's getting tedious as hell. I can't leave the whole scene out, because it gives my MCs some crucial information. But it's kind of one-thing-after-the-other and not very exciting. And forced. It feels very forced.

    Maybe I'm just tired. Try again in the morning.
     
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