Archive | July, 2011

Self-Publishing Numbers: Week 5a

31 Jul

I’ve changed things up a bit. Since the first week was really only one day, I’ve marked it as such.

So, here it is:

Day 1:  10 (1 day)
Week 1:  9
Week 2:  15
Week 3:  15
Week 4:  17
Week 5:   15

The Amazon sale ended this week. Everyone said their numbers were being hurt by the sale, but I’m doubting that was true for me. Still pretty consistent.

Still doing no promo. Next week is my first week blogging on the new site Author Rescue. We’ll see how that goes!

Also, I think I know what the next Jenna book is about… toying with it on the side while I try to finish something in my other writing world

I’d love to hear your numbers! A friend of mine who is in epublishing told me these were really great considering that I’ve done almost nothing to promote it as I work on the other 1/2 of my writing life.

Feel free to post your numbers in the comments!

~Caitie~

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Funniest Thing I Heard This Week

27 Jul

I’m in a store. Nothing odd about that. Of course, it’s a clothing store and I’m not a big shopper. I’m a much better returner. But, it is what it is. I need a few things, so I’m in there…. shopping.

Luckily, I’m also being ignored. I hate when you just want to look and the sales people are all over you. They usually are in this store. Only, they’re doing some big floor move. Putting new stuff up. Taking old stuff down. Making a bigger mess of the place than my floor closet when company shows up unannounced.

There’s a family in the same section of this standalone, plaza size shop.  Well, a sterotypical soccer mom and three kids. Dad was obviously smart enough to opt out. The boys, for some really odd reason, seemed to have thought they were all going for ice cream.

There’s no ice cream in this shop.

There’s not even an ice cream shop in this plaza.

Suckers.

The kids are actually being really good. I mean, they’re goofing around but they aren’t loud. They aren’t running around. They aren’t getting near other shoppers. This is amazing seeing as the oldest boy is probably 12 — maybe 13 — then a 10-year-old, then a 9-year-old girl (those two introduced themselves to me to tell me I looked pretty in a skirt I tried later. I wish I could have just hired them to do the shopping for me.)

So, the kids start giggling…then laughing a lot. I’m still not sure what it was that had them so tickled, but they were having a grand old-time following their mum around…I guess she was getting curious too, because she looked over her shoulder and the first shocked words out of her mouth were:

“Michael! Holy *expletive**expletive* – Did you take the *expletive*clothes off those mannequins? What the *expletive* were you thinking.”

At this point, she’s rushing toward the front of the store to… I don’t know what. Cover the mannequins some how I guess.

The kids are laughing way too hard to stop her… or maybe they knew good comedy when they saw it coming so they didn’t stop her on purpose.

She starts glancing around, looking for loose clothing to redress the mannequins and when she can’t find any, she starts pulling clothes off a rack and dressing them. Only they’re stand up mannequins so there’s no way to put the pants on them. She’s trying to figure out how to put the pants on (and her kids are still laughing… hard) when the sales girl walks up and says… in one of those I-don’t-want-to-accuse-you-of-being-nuts-but voices, “Can I help you?”

The mom, poor dear, is still trying to somehow shove clothes on the naked-snow-white bodies as the girl looks on a little frantically…her gaze switching from the woman to the pile of clothes she’s creating trying to dress those things.

“I’m so sorry. My kids love a good joke, but I can’t believe they’d put naked people in your window!”

At this point, I’m wondering if *I* should have said something, but I’m kind of with the kids on this one. It’s way too good to look away from.

“Um, ma’am. Your kids didn’t do that. We’re redressing the store.”

At this point, the woman has one of the mannequins in a headlock as she tries to force a too small tank top over it’s removable head. Unfortunately, that’s about the time she accidentally figures out that the head is removable.

“Oh.”

We all kind of wait.

“Oh.”

Yeah, we’re still waiting.

“Well then. I guess maybe you shouldn’t leave these in the window naked. I mean, nudity isn’t exactly the look you’re going for.” With that, Soccer Mom calls her kids and marches out of the store, head held semi-high… kids laughing so hard one’s on the verge of an asthma attack.

All I could think was: Best. Shopping. Day Ever.

~Caitie~

Self-Publishing Numbers, Week 5

26 Jul

I was hit up on twitter for a break down of those first four weeks by week. I’m thinking about making this a weekly thing. Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing what a short story does weekly.

So, here it is:

Week 1:  10… Of course, this was only 1.5 days LOL
Week 2:  9
Week 3:  15
Week 4:  15
Week 5:  17

As you can see, 5 weeks are listed, but it’s really 4 weeks and a day. We’ll call that first day a week to keep the numbers clean from here on out.

Like I said yesterday, I’m pretty much staying steady at about 2 a day now. No one’s rushing out to help me buy a new car. But that was never the point. 

I will say, being on forums and hearing other people with shorts selling 0-4 for the entire month was a boost for me. I may not be a big fish in a small pond (or even a small fish in a fishtank…wait, I”m allergic to fish. How about… Oh, nevermind).. but I am happy to be on a steady schedule.

So, I’ll be deciding if I should post these numbers every week. Let me know what you think. I”ll also add in if I do anything crazy (like buy ad space *snort*) so you can see if/how that affects things… you know, if you all vote to see the numbers LOL

~Caitie~

30 Day Check-In

25 Jul

When I started this blog, it was with the intention of letting people see what starting from scratch looked like for someone self-publishing.

The first thirty days ended this weekend and I’m feeling a little anxious about sharing. It’s drilled into us from birth not to discuss politics, money or religion.

Oh well.

Day one was June 22nd. The story went live and I sent 8 copies out to friends as a thank you. Then I took off for RWA and skipped the biggest week to pimp my story by not being online for 10 days 🙂

When I got back, the last week in June I sold 31 copies (minus the 8 gifts)

I was pretty darn happy with that!

If you’re new to the Amazon game, my book (a short) was priced (by me) at $.99. Because it was under the 70% threshold, I get 35% for each book I sell. So, for June I made:

10.85 – 2.80=8.05

For the remainder of my first 30 days, I sold an additional 47 and gave 4 promo copies (so, 43 sold)

I’m excited to say that means I sold 66 copies outside of gifts/promo for my first 30 days.

Wow! That’s over 2 a day!

For marketing, I did those 4 giveaways (let’s just say I think about 6 people found me… and now almost all of them have free copies *grin*) — but I was also reviewed on Cheeky Reads and had some amazing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m sure that must have helped.

The same day as the Cheeky Reads review, I was the author spotlight on the new Author Rescue site (which I’ve actually been invited to join in August – stay tuned!)

So, basically… here is month one:

I did no marketing. I had zero contacts. I sold 66 copies and made $23.10 (which pays for the great cover I got at a deep, deep discount of $22 from Razzle Dazzle.)

I’d like to say I’m pretty happy with this. I’ve learned enough about what I’m going to do in the future for writing/marketing. Also, there’s the balance of writing for my other NY-Agented persona 😉

Hope that give some insight into the first month. From now on, I”ll be reporting on full months, not my start-date months.

Also, stick around for more numbers later this week 😉

~Caitie~

 

Sample Sunday – It’s in His Kiss

24 Jul

Hi *waves* Welcome to my first Sample Sunday. Here’s the opening of my short It’s in His Kiss. Hope you enjoy 🙂

~Caitie~

 

 

The thick smoker-voice on the other end of the phone made demands I wanted to ignore. “It’s time for Chloe’s first kiss.”

“What? It can’t be,” I replied, pushing back the panic. “She’s far too young to be involved with boys.”

“Honey, she’s sixteen. Almost seventeen if I remember correctly.”

“But, kissing? Boys?” I shook my head against the receiver, my glasses clinking the earpiece. “I don’t think she’s ready.”

“No, Jenna. You’re not ready. But that doesn’t mean a teenaged girl doesn’t reach that point without us.”

I glared at my Hello Kitty phone, tempted to hang up and claim a bad connection.

“I think maybe a big school dance story line would be great,” Ely continued. “She’s co-captain of her soccer team and vice president of the junior class. Isn’t there anyone she’d be interested in?”

Ely Morgan, Agent Extraordinaire-slash-Pushiest-Woman-on-the-Planet, had never steered me wrong before – except maybe that one time with the now infamous author-photo-from-you-know-where – but still, good advice was there to be had. That didn’t mean I had to like it.

I collapsed back in my worn leather office chair, tempted to spin until I was dizzy. “It’s time?”

“Sugar, it’s past time.”

“I’m not sure.” It’s too soon. “Maybe I could work a potential love interest into the next book.” If anyone good enough crosses my word-processing fingers. “And then we can fold it into senior year.” Or college. Or never.

“I know you want to protect her, sweetie.” Ely voice sounded muffled, the click-clack of a keyboard echoing in the background. Agent Extraordinaire was also Multitasking Empress.

The clatter from her phone hitting the ground told me I’d been right.

“Sorry about that,” Ely said. “You still there?”

“Mmhmm.”

“Ok, Jenna. Here’s the deal. Forest Oak won’t take another book unless Chloe matures a little. Your fan mail is from girls who grew up with her and, while a lot of them are shy or nerdy or untrusting or whatever it is keeping them from kissing a boy, that doesn’t mean they don’t want Chloe to. So the deal is, next book, out early fall, homecoming maybe. Chloe gets a kiss.”

I pushed back and spun, the phone cord wrapping around my neck. A sign perhaps?

“All right. I’ll do my best.”

“You always do, my little overachiever.”

Without a goodbye, Ely had hung up and gone on to her next seven multitasking events.

Untangling myself from Ms. Kitty’s tail, I opened the drawer where my writing notes were lovingly filed, alphabetized and color coordinated. The blue boy file was right where it was supposed to be, fourth back in the character notes, behind the pink girl folder but in front of the black folder of death — the place characters who didn’t work out went to die.

Marty O’Donnell — snob, dated best friend, dumped her for an underclassman…er, underclasswoman? Girl?

Mark Andersen — smelled funny, mentioned in three books.

Tony Baccio — funny, smart, cute. Friend’s brother. Should be in college this fall.

Kevin Kline — currently dating best friend.

Slamming the blue folder closed, I considered transferring Chloe to a girls’ boarding school run by nuns on an unchartered island. If I did that, I could add the blue folder to the black one and cut down on folders. It was economical. It made sense.

It would lose me a contract.

Grabbing Hello Kitty, I dialed Lisbeth Nardi’s number in desperation.

“Ciao.”

Lisbeth was the only person I knew who could get away with answering her phone like that. She was also the only one I knew who had kissed half the metro area.

“Lis, I need my character to get kissed. I need a guy and a kiss description.”

“Aren’t you supposed to write what you know?” I heard the laughter in her voice and knew she didn’t mean to be cruel. Unfortunately, she was also right.

“That’s why I need you. You can tell me how kissing a guy feels the first time.” Her earlier words still stung, so I added, “You’ve had plenty of experience in the first kiss department.”

A sigh blasted my ear. One of those declare-yourself-a-martyr sighs.

“First off Jenna, I think what you need to do is just get out there. Get your own first kisses. Get your own life.”

I could almost hear her shrug over the phone.

“Second, your character isn’t you. Her boyfriend is imaginary. He’s not going to convince her to go to the same college, propose the middle of junior year, stand her up at the altar because his frat brothers called him an idiot at the bachelor party the night before, and then try to convince her they should still have sex on the side. That stuff only happens to you.”

That was painful. True, but painful. And kind of rude. Okay, more than kind of, but I was feeling desperate.

“You’re no help.” If the queen of the pick-up couldn’t help me, I was out of luck.

“Oh, I’ll help all right,” she answered. “Actually, I wouldn’t miss this for the world. Meet me outside O’Leary’s at ten and I’ll be more help than you could have wished for.”

Why is Your Book Not Selling?

21 Jul

So, you have an indie book out there already and it’s just not doing what you’d hoped it would? Sales aren’t taking off or even staying consistent. Your mom and your best friend can’t tell you why because it’s so great. Things aren’t flying off the virtual shelf and you want to know why?

Well, check out Why Is My Book Not Selling. Victorine E. Lieske started this site this summer and I have to say, I’m extremely impressed.

The format is consistent and straight forward. You post:

  1. Your cover
  2. Author
  3. Genre
  4. Launch Date
  5. Current Price
  6. Number sold so far
  7. Your blurb/Product Description
  8. First 300 words of your work
  9. And  (of course) your amazon link 🙂

Mine would look like this:

Author: Caitie Quinn
Genre: Rom Com
How long it’s been on sale: June 22, 2011
Current price: $.99
Total sold so far: Approx. 70
Link to book on Amazon: It’s in His Kiss

Product Description:

Jenna’s been letting life pass her by as she works on her career. But, when she needs to do some research of this kissing kind, things may get a little more heated than she expected.
Research has never been so fun.

WARNING: This 10k short has no vampires, shape shifter or scorching sex, but it might make you snort your diet Coke out your nose.

First 300 Words:

The thick smoker-voice on the other end of the phone made demands I wanted to ignore. “It’s time for Chloe’s first kiss.”

“What? It can’t be,” I replied, pushing back the panic. “She’s far too young to be involved with boys.”

“Honey, she’s sixteen. Almost seventeen if I remember correctly.”

“But, kissing? Boys?” I shook my head against the receiver, my glasses clinking the earpiece. “I don’t think she’s ready.”

“No, Jenna. You’re not ready. But that doesn’t mean a teenaged girl doesn’t reach that point without us.”

I glared at my Hello Kitty phone, tempted to hang up and claim a bad connection.

“I think maybe a big school dance story line would be great,” Ely continued. “She’s co-captain of her soccer team and vice president of the junior class. Isn’t there anyone she’d be interested in?”

Ely Morgan, Agent Extraordinaire-slash-Pushiest-Woman-on-the-Planet, had never steered me wrong before – except maybe that one time with the now infamous author-photo-from-you-know-where – but still, good advice was there to be had. That didn’t mean I had to like it.

I collapsed back in my worn leather office chair, tempted to spin until I was dizzy. “It’s time?”

“Sugar, it’s past time.”

“I’m not sure.” It’s too soon. “Maybe I could work a potential love interest into the next book.” If anyone good enough crosses my word-processing fingers. “And then we can fold it into senior year.” Or college. Or never.

“I know you want to protect her, sweetie.” Ely voice sounded muffled, the click-clack of a keyboard echoing in the background. Agent Extraordinaire was also Multitasking Empress.

The clatter from her phone hitting the ground told me I’d been right.

“Sorry about that,” Ely said. “You still there?”

“Mmhmm.”

“Ok, Jenna. Here’s the deal. Forest Oak won’t take another book unless Chloe matures a little. Your fan mail is from girls who grew up with her and, while a lot of them are shy or nerdy or untrusting or whatever it is keeping them from kissing a boy, that doesn’t mean they don’t want Chloe to. So the deal is, next book, out early fall, homecoming maybe. Chloe gets a kiss.”

 I pasted that in so you could see just HOW MUCH information that is. It’s everything you’d typically use to make a purchasing decision but not so much that you’d feel like you needed to make a crazy investment in time to either send yours in OR participate as a reader.

Wait. I didn’t tell you that this was a reader participation blog?

Yup. It is. Here is a chance to get feedback from people who buy books about why they would or wouldn’t buy your book (please review number one of my last blog before doing this…no seriously. Don’t be that person.)

So, first, Victorine gives a really balanced verdict of what she sees from the cover, blurb etc. She has a “final verdict” paragraph and then invites people to comment as well.

I have to say, I’ve been amazingly impressed with how thoughtful, fair and tactful people have been on the whole. It’s an amazing opportunity to ONE get great feedback and TWO promote your book. I’m looking forward to hearing if people have started selling their book strictly from being on Victorine’s site…before any changes are even made.

I’m going to go out on a big limb here, let’s hope it holds me 😉

I think Why Is My Book Not Selling could become the indie-publishing equivalent of Janet Reid’s amazing site Query Shark.

If you’re smart but not daring, don’t overlook this site. You can learn a lot about what might not be working with your book if you’re willing to read through comments on other books and be bluntly honest when reviewing your own. It is — just like Query Shark — a great chance to learn from the mistakes/missteps of others.

~Caitie~

How to Lose Readers Before Your Book Comes Out

19 Jul

It’s been an interesting two weeks. Because of this self-publishing journey, I’ve found myself walking around in both the traditional publishing world and the indie-publishing world. And yet, some things remain the same in both worlds.

One of those things is that you can lose a reader…even before you’re published.

Are you doing any of the following?

Tell the reader she’s not your reader.

This has happened in several places over the last few weeks. I’ve seen an author (often after asking for people’s opinions) explain that since you don’t like his cover/blurb/tagline/website you must not “get” it and so you aren’t his reader.

There’s a couple of problems with this.

The first is that you’ve just told someone not to buy your book. Lost sale, your own fault.

The second is that you’re not realizing the actual problem. You’ve gone into offensive-defense. It’s everyone who doesn’t love its fault. They just don’t get it. They aren’t smart enough or well-educated enough or “in” enough to understand why my cover/blurb/tagline/website is genius.

Ok, that MIGHT be true. So, obviously, if you’re willing to play that game, you’re also willing to not sell very many books. You’re willing to only sell to what you’re idea of “elite” is…. good luck with that.

The third…and probably the one that’s true most often is… the cover/blurb/tagline/website is not genius and it’s not doing its job.

Its job is to sell your book. If it needs to be explained OR if you need to read the book to get it, its job is definitely not being done. So often writers say “It’s perfect for my book.” Maybe that’s true. But if it’s not perfect to SELL your book, then it doesn’t matter. Those things work BEFORE the reader has read/bought the book.

So, if you want to be elitist, an obscure niche, or just plain stubborn, continue on as you are.

Assume the person is not your reader and ignore her on social media.

Let’s start off with this: Last year I read at least 428 books. People who read a lot read a lot of different genres.

Yes, the book right there *points left, shameless plug for a funny, light-hearted, quick read* is a romance. But, I didn’t even read my first romance till about 4 years ago. I read a lot. I read a lot of different things. I’m not odd. I’m just a reader.

So, when you see that someone is interacting with your group on social media, but she’s a *fill-in-the-blank* so you don’t think she’s your reader… DO NOT ignore her.

You just never know. I have someone who I was absolutely dying to get his book. It doesn’t come out for another 10 months. He interacts with a lot of my social media buddies and friends. He has never responded to me… Not to direct statements. Not to group discussions. I am invisible to him.

Someone in the industry said they could get me his book since I was so excited to read it.

You know what? I lost interest. There’s a lot of other great readers out there.

Reading is personal. You want to connect with the story and the book. If the reader already has a bad taste in her mouth because of the writer, that connection isn’t going to be there…and she’s not going to buy your book.

There are only two options for social media as your author persona: Do it OR Don’t do it.

Insult the genre you’re writing in.

Seriously, if I hear one more  talk by a certain writer about how she doesn’t write romance again, I’m going to throw things. It’s not even that she has an opinion about her book that I disagree with (although, I’m sorry, WHO exactly does she think is reading her books that isn’t reading them for the romance? No. Really. Who? I would love to meet that person.)

It’s the disrespectful way I have personally heard her talk about romance at her talks.

She made it big because she was put on the romance shelf and romance readers bought her in huge numbers.

Hello hand that fed me *shark attack bite*

I’ll never buy her again. Will I read her again? Maybe. I have this great library 2 blocks away that will let me read her without putting money in her pocket. Just like everything else, I vote with my wallet.

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Pat it generously. It’s a circle and growing your genre grows you.

Insult a respected, successful, well-known author of the genre you’re writing in

This goes for individual authors in that genre.

I reallllllly don’t understand dissing the guy who made your genre what it is. But, for some strange reason, that seems to be a sport with writers.

It’s so junior high to rip someone down to look smart. And, since you’re about to sell that book, maybe acting like a junior higher isn’t in your best interest. I mean, you remember junior high, right? No one liked junior high.

So, don’t forget, even before your book comes out, you’re in charge of the image you give to the world.

Readers can be fickle… they’re human. And, there are now uncountable books available at the click of a mouse. Yours is just one. If you turn a reader off before that click is even available, how are you going to win them back when it is?

That’s easy: You’re probably not.

So, go forth and be a good writerly citizen, because there is such a thing as author karma.

~Caitie~