I may be doing better about keeping on a regular writing and publishing schedule, but I'm learning nothing I knew in 2013 as far as marketing and promotion is applicable today.
Part of it is good. We indies have a hell of a lot more options than we did back then. But all of them cost cash, and most of them take time to learn how to use them effectively.
We used to get attention through advanced reader copies (ARCs) sent to reader review blogs and our most ardent fans. But many of the prominent review blogs from five years ago have shut down for various reasons. Our fans won't leave early reviews, or worse, illegally post our books for sale on pirate sites.
Or the worst, post our books on legitimate retail sites and make money off us. (That's called theft, kids. Depending on the amount of money, you might be looking at a felony conviction. Jus' sayin'...)
But the only constant in life is change as Great-grandpa would say.
So now, I'm studying Amazon ads and Facebook ads and promotion stacking. All the new tricks of the trade to get attention.
But the real tried and true method? The one that still works?
Write a new @$&@*&# book!
I see new writers making the same mistake new writers have made since self-publishing became a viable thing. They flog one book to death. Over and over and over...
So as much as I feel stupid figuring out impressions and CPCs, I know I'm doing one thing right.
I keep hearing Red Leader's stern voice in my head, like a Force ghost: "Stay on target. Stay on target."
My target is entertaining my readers on a regular basis. Once I get the current crop of finished stories out, I've got more ideas in the pipeline. Like I said last week, I've already got enough ideas for the rest of 21st century. My Muse has decided that's not enough, and she's started stockpiling for the 22nd.
I'm very thankful I have incredibly patient readers!
DH and I are planning to buy a house. Part of the discussion is whether to buy something already constructed or to build. Part of the discussion is whether this will be our last move at all and how should we plan for not being able to get around.
The discussion turned to actual scheduling of looking at the current houses on the market, the ones that meet our specific needs. Scheduling these viewings around my writing and publishing schedule. Basically, my very full until September schedule.
And somehow, the discussion turned to what I'd write next. There's a ton of stuff I've started and I want to finish. There's some ideas in genres I have yet to try, and I mentioned a specific idea. DH asked when I would write that one. I said I don't know. And the real reason hit me.
I don't know if I'll live long enough to write it.
It's not that I fear death. I'm simply acknowledging that my time on this planet is more finite than it was last year.
Or ten, twenty, thirty years ago.
I have folders full of vague ideas, outlines, and partially written stories. Enough that if I typed a thousand words a day, it would take me a century to write them all.
And I'm constantly getting new ideas. Spin-offs from already established series. Things that are completely new. What-ifs from non-fiction things I see in the news or on the street.
I honestly don't understand how any writer can get stuck. I'm merely disappointed I won't finish all of my stories before I leave.
One of the joys of owning my own business is when tax time rolls around.
Actually, I try very hard to make sure everything is labelled appropriately, so I can just run the reports and send them to my CPA. Inevitably though, something doesn't match up, and I have to dig through receipts to fix it in the accounting database.
So here's your friendly reminder for my fellow U.S. writers that you still have file a return even if you didn't make any money on your books.
Especially if you didn't make money on your books. You can still take the losses (in most instances) on your taxes, and the IRS won't demand money you don't owe them.
So today, I'm gathering and double-checking everything before I send it to Ed the CPA.
And for everyone who keeps checking the Justice tab here and on my main website, let's just say you have a nice Valentine's Day present coming.
A huge storm passed through Chicago and Detroit last night. We were supposed to be on the southern edge. The weather reports said we would get 0-1 inches while Toledo, which is an hour north of us, expected 7-9 inches.
Needless to say, we got a little more than an inch. Genius Kid and I said, "Screw it," and went back to bed. Okay, we both stayed in bed. When Genius Kid's alarm went off, he checked the school closures report and rolled over.
On the other hand, I slept through the whole thing. My stamina sucks these days. I've been getting up every morning to do writing sprints with a fellow author. But he wasn't going to be able to do it this morning, so I didn't bother to set my alarm.
This afternoon though, I've got to get back to work. Over the last four days, I've been writing 1,500 words on Hero Ad Hoc in the morning and reviewing the e-book proof of A Modicum of Truth.
[Lesson Learned: Don't write a 100K epic fantasy in the middle of a major release cycle. I'm not touching A Matter of Death until my schedule is clear.]
Luckily, the guys are still planning on their night out with Papa. I'll have extra time since I won't have to make dinner, and I'll have a silent apartment for roughly two hours.
I'm also not baking today as is my usually wont on a snow day. I made mint chocolate chip cookies on Monday. (Only a two-hour delay though.) I don't think my waistline can handle more no matter what those cans of pumpkin in the cupboard are whispering.
So for those of you in the snow belt, how do you handle snow days with the kids?
Anybody who belongs, or has belonged, to Romance Writers of America has heard the acronym BICFOK. No, it's not a dirty word. It's the acronym for the title of today's post.
You don't have to take it literally, though I have the past three mornings. I've set my alarm, got up and planted myself in my office chair for three hours in order to get the day's wordcount in before I work on editing.
If you don't take BICFOK literally, it stands for doing the work. To have a writing career, you have to do the work. You have to learn your craft, and you have to write an entertaining tale. All the fabulous covers, witty blurbs, and marketing money in the world only gets your reader's foot in the door. To keep them there, you've got to write a damn good story.
I see too many new writers burning themselves out gaming the system. Oh, they don't think they are gaming. They aren't bookstuffing or clickfarming or any other weird shenanigans that are designed to rip off the money-paying public.
No, they write stuff only for the money. Following trends. Writing books that they hate in genres they don't respect. And they wonder why they aren't making any money beyond their obscene ad spend.
It's because a good story is about more than the tropes and formulas. It's about the way your characters make the reader feel.
And I honestly believe if you're not feeling the feels when you're writing that story, your audience won't either.
I say this because I finished the first round of edits on Sacrificed late Sunday night. And I was sobbing as I saved my files.
DH had already gone to bed, but I was still sniffling when I climbed under the covers. He asked me what was wrong, and I told him. He didn't belittle me for identifying so closely with my characters. He simply held me until we both fell asleep.
And since he's my alpha reader, I'll probably have to hold him tonight when he finishes reading the book.
Isn't that what you want from your audience?
To laugh along with your heroes, cheer for them, and when shit happens, cry with them?
All the money for covers and ads in the world can't buy those feelings. You have to earn them
By placing your butt in that chair, your fingers on your keyboard, learning your craft, and writing a damn good story.
Another film I'd wanted to see in the theater over a year ago. DH wanted to see The Legos Batman Movie though, and I'd thought we'd have a chance to go the following week. Unfortunately, his mom was readmitted to the hospital a few days later, and The Great Wall was a quick two-weeks and out at our local theater.
So I recorded it over the free HBO weekend at Thanksgiving, and we finally had a chance to sit down and watch it.
Needless to say, if you haven't watched it and are worried about SPOILERS, why are you still on this page?
First of all, this was a joint Chinese-American production, which in all the uproar over the movie was conveniently forgotten.
Matt Damon, as always, brings his A-game to whatever role he plays. And no, he's not the white savior some folks (who didn't even see the movie) claimed he was. He's actually Han Solo to Jing Tian's Luke Skywalker.
Jing Tian's General Lin may be the actual problem with American audiences because she IS in the Luke Skywalker role, not the princess role. And literally not how Leia evolved from princess/diplomat to general in Star Wars. Lin has been a soldier since she can remember, and saving her country and its people is in her blood. And horror of horrors, she and Matt Damon's William DON'T HAVE SEX!
Instead, the two work together to save Medieval China from monsters that literally eat everything in sight.
This is a good old-fashioned action monster flick. It's a ton of fun, and something you can let your kids watch. There's not a lot of gore. Most of it is insinuated.
I loved the movie because it showed men and women fighting side-by-side to protect the human race. Frankly, if I hadn't put out four short stories and a novel set my the Justice universe prior to the movie's release, I'd be worried about accusations of plagiarism.
There were a couple of tiny editing screw-ups, but it didn't detract from the movie. Nor will I count off for them. In fact, I'm going to look for a director's cut. *grin*
Overall, I give The Great Wall 10 out of 10 stars!
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