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Messages - ShaneCarrow

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I just dipped my toe in with a 30-day trial of advertising on Twitter and found it to be pretty ineffective. Really non-user-friendly interface, too, compared to AMS.

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Writers' Cafe / Increasing first book price from 99c to $2.99
« on: March 21, 2018, 03:32:34 AM »
The first book in my series is priced at 99c as a hook, while the rest are $2.99. I think it has enough momentum now to raise that one to $2.99 as well, but I'm also going to start doing rolling Bookbub applications from the end of March, and I vaguely remember reading that they don't like it if you think you're raising your price just to (from their POV) slash it for a promo... is that the case? Can't find it written anywhere.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Does Anyone Else Commission Covers First?
« on: March 19, 2018, 05:54:18 AM »
No - but only because I tend to pick a title at the last minute. In fact I think I still have a Goodreads question asking about a mystery missing book in my series which is actually just a discarded working title I was dumb enough to put in the Coming Next bit...

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Which Dragon?
« on: March 11, 2018, 03:52:37 PM »
There's a very inexpensive app I use on my phone that works better than my (admittedly midline) digital recorder. It's called Hi-Q Mp3 recorder or something. Anyway, I have a decent headset that plugs into my phone and I do dictating that way.

My computer has a crappy processor and I *think* that is why Dragon is always so ridiculously inaccurate for me, or maybe I just have one of those voices. Anyway, I only use it for outlining these days, but I like the Hi-Q app. You can even set it up to automatically upload to dropbox.

Oh, and yeah, if you ever want to do any transcribing (recording away from the computer and then having dragon turn those audio files to type) then you want the professional or whatever it's called.

How accurate do you all find it to be in general? I use it constantly at my day job, in a bit of a different capacity, and the idea of using it for writing has always struck me as weird. Putting in punctuation would drive me up the wall. And I think I'd prefer typing because it's slightly slower but that gives you time to think ahead.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« on: March 11, 2018, 03:49:06 PM »
O'Brian's jump cuts are pretty hardcore though. You have to pay very close attention to his prose in general, but when I started reading him it was the cuts that threw me. Like, two characters will be deep in conversation over several pages, one will mention he has an appointment at the Admiralty later, and then the very next line - with no transitioning or indication or attribution at all, apart from the subject matter changing slightly - is that same character talking to somebody else entirely different, hours later, at the Admiralty.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« on: March 11, 2018, 03:38:19 AM »
Interesting that this kicked off with King but nobody's mentioned his part-autobiography, part-guide On Writing. Writing advice books generally suck but King is such a down-to-earth, no-[bullcrap] kind of guy that I found it both useful and enjoyable.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone here have an MFA in Creative Writing?
« on: March 07, 2018, 03:10:50 AM »
After what many on here have said about one, do you think that any of us who have one would admit it?

There is a semi-famous essay about M.F.A. programs and the students who sign up for one here:

http://www.thestranger.com/books/features/2015/02/27/21792750/things-i-can-say-about-mfa-writing-programs-now-that-i-no-longer-teach-in-one

I found it fascinating.

Ah! I read this years ago and had forgotten the essay but very much remembered the piece of art that headlines it, which I think perfectly sums up the life of a writer. I was convinced it went alongside the news (around the same time) that Philip Roth had quit writing and advised young writers that it basically just involves sitting in a room by yourself all day, which is no way to live. I'd been thinking about it because of the theoretical dream I have of being a full-time writer, which I recently realised would basically involve working from home which would send me insane.

Anyway. Great piece of art.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Does anyone write westerns?
« on: March 04, 2018, 02:02:18 AM »
I don't mean the McMurtry-style sagas

Out of curiosity, is there some major difference between McMurtry and other Western writers? I adore the Lonesome Dove series and I'd always thought McMurtry was one of those lucky writers who sits in the middle of the Venn diagram between "massively popular" and "literary merit."

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Writers' Cafe / Re: A marketing question: 99c vs free
« on: March 04, 2018, 01:59:18 AM »
I have the first book in my series at 99c, the remainder at 2.99, I make the first one free for limited promo periods and it's been working fairly well for me. You are correct that it doesn't count towards sales rank, however there does tend to be a bump following the promo periods (and certainly flow through to other books in the series).

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Approached About Film/TV Rights?
« on: March 01, 2018, 01:40:59 AM »
I had this happen a few years back, for a short story I wrote, long before I ever self pubbed anything. Talked to the studio producer on the phone a few times and they were very keen for me to extend the story to a full length work, which I wasn't interested in doing, but I was happy for them to have different writers work on it and extend it themselves. I signed something - not an official optioning contract - but never heard anything again.

The impression I got - it was the producer's assistant who contacted me, though I did eventually speak to the producer as well - was that their job was basically to rack up options. I think even most professional options, which go for a song, never get made. They just want to have a [crap]load of stuff on the pile so they always have something to propose to studios. I guess it's like the movie version of a slush pile? But don't take my word for it. (The other thing was, on the phone, they lived up to every dumbass "Hollywood executive" stereotype I've ever heard, making completely nonsensical suggestions that made no sense for the story I'd written, the kind of thing I wouldn't write in fiction because it's unbelievable - and I say that as the author of a self pubbed zombie series.)

If they just want to option your work, for a limited time period, I'd say just sign it and take what they give you. But if it's something they do eventually decide they want to turn into a film or TV series you absolutely need an agent, because that's when real money will get involved.

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Free until this weekend - RISE OF THE UNDEAD, the first volume in my Australian zombie apocalypse saga:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N4JX2M1

New Year's Day: midsummer in Australia. In Perth, twin brothers Aaron and Matt have graduated high school and are enjoying their last few months of summer holidays before adulthood - while on the other side of the country, something has fallen from the sky, heralding the dawn of a new age.

As a terrifying plague spreads across Australia and the world, Aaron and Matt find themselves scrambling to survive, fleeing the city, refugees in their own country. Tormented by strange dreams and beset by violence, they must struggle to find the remnants of their family and survive the Rise of the Undead.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Latest book not in series?
« on: February 27, 2018, 01:30:32 PM »
OK, thanks - it's been four days and I have a book 1 free promo starting tomorrow so I think I'll fire off an email!

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I second the thought that this might be a scam.  Contact the Canadian authorities _yourself_, using a phone number gotten from a neutral source, and ask whether they _really_ have sent you a letter and phoned you.

Here in the U.S., I myself have had an arrest warrant issued on me by the Internal Revenue at least five times.  A voice on the telephone told me so.

Thirding this. Scammers posing as tax officials has become really common in recent years.

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Writers' Cafe / Latest book not in series?
« on: February 27, 2018, 03:09:12 AM »
I released my latest book (in my signature) on the weekend and it hasn't been properly listed as part of the End Times series. I've checked with "edit ebook content" again, and I definitely have the boxes filled out right. Is there a delay while Amazon shuffles things into place? I don't recall that happening with the previous books in my series...

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Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you get reviews and exposure: anyone?
« on: February 25, 2018, 06:45:06 PM »
PS: I will look into finding someone professional to design a new cover as well.

If you're on a budget, when I first launched I used Alchemy Book Designs, specifically their quick cover option for $80 - https://www.alchemybookcovers.com/clients. You basically find an image (or a couple) on depositphotos.com yourself, and she turns that into a cover.

I stuck with the same option all throughout my series (in my signature) for consistency, and I'm quite happy with them. Now that my books are turning a good profit I'd outlay a lot more on a cover, but I think the $80 option is quite good when you're just starting out.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you get reviews and exposure: anyone?
« on: February 25, 2018, 04:01:40 PM »
Does anyone know of ways to get mentioned or featured in newsletters?

The vast majority of ebook newsletters are for discount or temporarily-free ebooks. Here is a list:

https://www.readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promotion-sites

Yes, they cost money, but you have to spend money to make money. Make your book free for a few days and pay for a bunch of promos and you should start to see reviews trickle in.

edit - and looking at your book, and speaking of spending money to make money, you should have shelled out $100 or so for a better cover. Your cover is as important as your book.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Blurb feedback - zombie apocalypse series, book 5
« on: February 23, 2018, 02:36:10 PM »
No, thanks, it's helpful!

He's basically trying to get back to his own forces way to the south. He actually ends up getting captured and tortured, which I don't want to outright give away in the blurb. I do find it very hard, 5 books in the series, to gauge where to cut off the amount of info I put in a blurb - if I explained everything it'd run for eight paragraphs!

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Blurb feedback - zombie apocalypse series, book 5
« on: February 22, 2018, 05:21:29 PM »
I've always had a problem with passive voice... which I think shows when I change what you suggested and to my eye it still looks odd, as a sentence. Or maybe blurb-writing is just well outside my wheelhouse. This is slightly amended:

----------

Matt King is on the run. One of the last survivors of the catastrophic expedition to Brisbane, he has a nuclear launch codebook vital to the survival of the human race - desperately trying to keep it from the rogue military forces commanded by the ruthless General Draeger.

Behind enemy lines, in the so-called Republic of New England, Matt discovers a very different place to the zombie-ravaged world beyond. In fortress towns patrolled by conscripted soldiers, people are not just surviving but thriving - trading freedom for safety, ruled by a brutal military dictatorship.

Lost and alone, cut off from his allies and hunted like an animal, Matt will face his greatest challenge of all: surviving the darkness at the heart of General Draeger's kingdom of hell.

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No stranger to society's underbelly, ex-soldier and lowly thief-taker Tyson Gallows spends his days waiting to die. With the shame of betrayal hanging over him, he lingers in the remnants of a recent war, haunted by the ghosts of his actions. But when tragedy erupts during Dalthea’s Remembrance commemorations, he is thrust into a bloody conspiracy with ties to his past.

Two things really stick out to me here. The first is that his surname being Gallows followed by spending his days waiting to die meant I immediately subconsciously thought he was a prisoner on death row. The second, as others have pointed out, is that "lingers in the remnants of a recent war" make it sound like he's physically at a recent battlefield meaning either a) he's not in the city you just introduced us to, or b) the city itself is recovering from a recent war, neither of which I think you intended to imply. If he's psychologically lingering, rewrite it to use the word "haunted" or something similar, and replace the "haunted man" near the end of the blurb with "broken man."

Other than that I reckon it reads fine. I'd just tweak that second para.

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Writers' Cafe / Blurb feedback - zombie apocalypse series, book 5
« on: February 22, 2018, 03:41:30 AM »
What's the only thing harder than writing a blurb? Writing a blurb five books deep in a series.

On the one hand it doesn't matter nearly as much as the blurb for book 1, because you mostly have a dedicated audience at this point. On the other hand it's easier to write a blurb for a story which is just starting, rather than one which is nearly done. I've found it harder and harder to write blurbs the deeper I get into the series.

Anyway here's what I have for End Times V: Kingdom of Hell, a post-apocalyptic zombie series. It obviously doesn't bog itself down with some massive recap of the series so far, but I hope it makes relative sense and might entice passers-by to click back through to book 1. I keep rewriting the middle paragraph, it feels clunky to me.

-----------

Matthew King is on the run. One of the last survivors of the catastrophic expedition to Brisbane, he's carrying a nuclear launch codebook vital to the survival of the human race - desperately trying to keep it from the hands of the rogue military forces commanded by the ruthless General Draeger.

Behind enemy lines, in the so-called Republic of New England, Matt discovers a very different place to the zombie-ravaged country he's come to know. In fortress towns patrolled by conscripted soldiers, people are not just surviving, but thriving - but have traded freedom for safety, ruled by a brutal military dictatorship.

Lost and alone, cut off from his allies and hunted like an animal, Matt is about to face his greatest challenge of all: confronting the darkness at the heart of General Draeger's kingdom of hell.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Copyright Page Question
« on: February 19, 2018, 01:11:53 AM »
It should be your name. But it doesn't really matter, because under copyright law you automatically have the copyright to your work from the moment you create it, regardless of whether you write anything at the front or not.

(Not that that will stop a bunch of piracy sites from automatically putting it on bittorrent.)

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No, you pay only for the month when you earned $1000. I paid once!

As to the price rise, if you are making $1000 a month, unless that is your only income, $19 isn't a lot to pay for a great service.

Ha. Guess I should have held my horses and not bought a year subscription!

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I basically built a spreadsheet where I rank various book promotion sites based on factors such as number of subscribers, monthly visitors, etc.  I then cross-referenced those rankings to try to identify the best of the best.  Needless to say, Bookbub ranked #1, but others that made the cut included Robin Reads, Free Booksy, and Read Cheaply, to name a few.  (For those interested, there's a post on my blog:  https://kevinhardman.blogspot.com/search?q=promotion)

Bookmarked, thanks!

Quote
Historically, I've never done much advertising, but I tried to step things up last year in terms of promotion and I like to think that ranking in this manner helped me.  Thus, even without getting a Bookbub, I feel like my promotion efforts were a success, but it's worth bearing in mind that even with the best sites there's going to be a diminishing rate of return if you use them over and over.  So, I might run a promo one month and give away 7000 books, then run another one on the same sites three months later and only give away 5000; three months after that, only 3000 (and so on).

I had thought of this, too. If you use the same sites over and over you're sort of banking on the majority of people who sign up to these newsletters not always reading them, otherwise you're just exposing your books to the same eyes which have already either bought them or scrolled past them.

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Nicholas Erik has got a short list of ones that have worked well for him in the last year on his website, and his marketing guides are worth their weight in gold. But because books are not interchangeable widgets, marketing is very much an art rather than a plug and play process.
http://nicholaserik.com/promo-sites/

Interesting, thanks. It does confirm my suspicion that Bookbub is far and away the best method... which is a shame for those of us who can never land one!

I have my standard "launch new book/make first book free" promo at the end of the month and I've spent about $300 but only across some of the higher-end sites like Robin Reads etc. So it will be interesting to see how that goes. Last time I spent that much I made $1200 the next month; most recent time I did a launch/free promo I spent much less, but also spread across a hell of a lot of lower-end newsletters, and got a terrible ROI. But I also think that might have been because I foolishly did it over Thanksgiving weekend.

My limited experience and gut feeling says the lower-end, cheaper newsletters are probably a waste of money.

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American tax law is nuts.

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