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Topics - Sonya Bateman

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2020 RATE SPECIAL: Original rate of $0.002 per word for any manuscript booked through the rest of the year (existing clients also get the discount!). See most recent post for details. :-)

Hi Kboarders,

This year I've decided to hang out my editing shingle. As of April 8, my rates are now $0.003 per word (that's $3 per 1,000 words -- so, for example, a 50,000-word manuscript would be $150).

I'm happy to provide you with a free sample edit of up to 1,500 words so you can get a feel for how I work and decide whether my services are right for you.

The copy editing service covers:

* Spelling, grammar, syntax, punctuation, and tense, including technical consistency
* Inconsistencies and continuity errors
* Fact checking and potential legal liability
* Repeated and/or overused words, confusing passages, and tonal shifts

Because I've worked extensively in various fields of publishing, I offer copy editing for all genres, and in both fiction and non-fiction.

Turnaround times and scheduling

Turnaround time for editing will be approximately 4 to 7 days, depending on the length of the manuscript and the number of projects I have. I typically reply to emails within one to two days. If you don't receive a reply relatively soon, please feel free to resend your message. :)

If you'd like a sample edit or you're ready to book a full edit, you can PM me here on Kboards or send me an email at [email protected] Currently (as of April 8), I am booking appointments for May and beyond.

You can email or PM me with questions anytime, or post them here in this thread. Thanks for reading my post!

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Writers' Cafe / Blog with book cover design tips?
« on: September 07, 2017, 07:17:48 pm »
Hey, all. I might be remembering this wrong, but I thought there was a member here who occasionally announces new posts on a blog that's all about cover design tips for people who are learning book cover design? If you know this blog, or you are that person, I would really love a link to the site. (Not for me, I am absolutely not an artist and never will be. Just trying to help out an aspiring artist.)

Thanks.

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So a while ago, I was a bad author and had my preorder privileges taken away. Since then Amazon updated the KDP interface ... and I do not see the dreaded checkbox-that-must-be-checked to tell them this is definitely, absolutely the final version of the book so please don't take my preorders again.

Have they removed this checkbox? Just want to make sure I'm not invoking the wrath of Amazon by not checking a box... ;D

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Writers' Cafe / Upgrading your book-is-done celebration
« on: August 19, 2016, 03:10:01 pm »
For *ahem-lots* of years, I've celebrated finishing a book by treating myself to a cup of "fancy" (Dunkin Donuts) coffee. With the book I just finished, #5 in a series and #ohgoddontmakemecount overall, I've decided to up the reward. So tonight I'm going to my local super cheap ($2 admission!) late-run movie theater to watch Alexander Skarsgard's magnificent abs the new Tarzan movie.

Obviously I'm the spare-no-expense type. ;D

Since I'm forward-thinking and all, in a few years I might upgrade again, and I'm looking for ideas. What do you do to celebrate FINALLY DONE? What's your ultimate self-reward for finishing a book look like?

(...and I'm just gonna cheer myself on a little here. woo-hoo, officially my longest (novel length) series ever and counting!)

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Writers' Cafe / Two at the same time! (a promo thread)
« on: May 02, 2016, 07:07:23 am »
Oh, baby...  ;D

So I've just launched book three of my urban fantasy series a little over a week ago, and tomorrow kicks off the promos -- for book one and two, at the same time. :D I'm doing three free days for book 1 (saving the other two free days in case BookBub says yes when I finish book 4, haha :P ), and running a countdown deal on book 2 for five days.

Why 5 days instead of 7 for the countdown? My shaky rationalization there is that 1. Sundays are usually my best sale days (the countdown ends on Saturday night) and I want to see what the tail looks like with all the books at full price, 2. It'll look weird with the middle book at 99 cents and the rest at regular price, and 3. I dunno, reasons. Totally scientific, I swear. :D

I just wanted to share the results here to add to the collective wisdom, and hope it helps someone else plan a great promo run (providing this turns out great, or even good, LOL). This is the lineup, which I started scheduling around a month before my planned launch day for book three:

Tues. May 3

Book 1 (free): Bknights, post to Rebecca Hamilton's FB Mega Giveaway Party (hi, Rebecca! Thanks for the opportunity!)
Book 2 (99 cents): Robin Reads, Reading Deals

Wed. May 4

Book 1: Book Barbarian
Book 2: Read Cheaply, Book Barbarian (both books being promoted)

Thurs. May 5

Book 1: FreeBooksy, Free Kindle Books & Tips, Fussy Librarian
Book 2: Bknights

Fri. May 6

Book 1 back to full price*
Book 2: ENT

Sat. May 7

Book 2: Sacrifice goats, dance under the moon, etc. [no ads scheduled]

*Full price for book 1 is currently $3.99. I am considering dropping it to $2.99 permanently once the free days end, because Reasons (again, totally scientific!). It's not exactly loss leader pricing, and not a huge difference in price, but the book has been out since January (making it "old" now... oh, the joys of Amazon churn) and it seems most of the current first-in-series UF books hanging around the high ranks are priced at $2.99 rather than $3.99. Still mulling this one over...

My overall goals with this promo, in no particular order:

1. Lots of sales / visibility (probably didn't need to mention that one ;D )
2. Introduce more readers to the series and hope they're interested enough to get book 3 while it's still on the new release lists
3. Measure the effect of this promo on KU reads for book 1 (for the first time since launch, I'm getting more sales than page reads -- which is not a bad thing!) for future decision-making purposes on whether going wide with the series may be worth it eventually
4. Get more Amazon followers -- I include "follow me on Amazon" as a call to action in the books and on the product page. Of course I can't really tell how effective this is... but with the book 3 launch, it seems like I did get a significant sales boost when Amazon started notifying my followers
5. Mailing list signups from the free book

This is the first time book 1 will be free (I ran a countdown deal on it when I launched book 2), so I'm hoping for a decent tail that will keep my ranks up (book 2 just dove off the 60-day cliff a few weeks back, and it was a pretty sharp drop!).

Will update this thread over the course of the week if folks are interested in the results! :) And now, I will return to trimming my nails with my teeth.  :P

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I bet there are lots of people around here who've had That Book. The book you were so excited about writing, that just would not be written. The book that you wanted to be awesome, but kept insisting on being blah. The book you ended up scrapping almost as much as you wrote for, because you needed it to be Right, Darn It.

The book you were terrified everyone would hate because you actually liked it...

I have finally finished That Book! I'm so happy relieved. Champagne (or milk) and cookies all around!  ;D

And a huge shout-out to Lou Harper, who designed the Best. Cover. Ever. for this book (third in my siggy) -- it's absolutely perfect for this story! :)

I will now go lie down and gently expire, because it's finally done. Yay! Phew.

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Writers' Cafe / How to get small caps to appear in an ebook
« on: April 19, 2016, 12:20:45 pm »
Anyone know how to do this? Is there perhaps a less complicated way than HTML and style sheets (I'm somewhat dumb at this -- I use Calibre to convert Word files to .mobi and that's about it, but I could probably muddle through if it's a bit more complex)?

Alternately, anyone know of a reasonably fast conversion service that would be able to preserve small caps (within the text of an ebook) in a way that would let me update the file myself (backmatter, etc.) later on without ruining the small caps?

Thanks for any advice!

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Writers' Cafe / So bad that BookBub had to reject me twice...
« on: April 02, 2016, 07:05:17 am »
So I finally have a series that's selling well. Releasing book 3 later this month, and I thought hey, I should try for a BookBub!

I went for the biggest possible discount ($3.99 to free! Great deal!) and submitted the book, and failed at not obsessing over it while I waited for a response. Then yesterday I got the "sorry, your book hasn't been chosen" email.

Okay, no big deal, I can handle that. Only got accepted for BookBub once, like 3 years ago, so I wasn't really expecting a yes (sniff). I'll just move on. So I spent a few hours yesterday putting together a promo with no BB and felt better about myself.  :)

And then, when I got up this morning, I had another email from BookBub. Another rejection, for the same submission. Like, just in case I wasn't sure I'd been rejected the first time. "Hey, your book has DEFINITELY not been chosen, just so you know..."  :-X

It's probably a glitch or something. Just thought this might help make others who get rejected feel a little better -- because at least they didn't extra-reject you!  ;D

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Writers' Cafe / Overnight success: It only took me 17 years...
« on: March 14, 2016, 07:05:46 am »
...so here's my attempt to help you not wait that long. :)

Hi. I'm Sonya. Most of you don't know me, because -- as my tag line to the left states -- I'm largely invisible on message boards. It's been that way since before The Forum That Shall Not Be Named. And I promised myself that I would never, ever write this post. I don't feel comfortable offering writing advice, because I don't believe there is One True Path to Success (because heck, I've followed just about every other Path To Success offered by other writers, and failed every time).

Having said that, I'm writing this post now because I know there are so many other writers out there who've been in this game for years and years, who've tried all the Path(s) To Success and angsted tremendously when Success failed to materialize on the horizon, just like me. So I wanted to tell you guys, the ones who've "quit" writing so many times that their closest friends and SOs know darned well they will never, ever quit, no matter how many times they threaten to, even if they actually mean it this time and every time -- the ones who keep saying this, but just can't quit, because writing is everything -- that there is hope.

Look at me. I made it after seventeen years of failing. It might not last, but I'm here now. And no matter what happens down the road, I'll always have this moment in the sun.

PART I: How I got here

Yes, this post has parts. It's long. It's kind of sad and pathetic. You might want to just skip to the end right now. :)

I've been an extremely avid reader for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I read everything I could get my hands on. Besides my family, books are the best things in my life. But it didn't occur to me to actually write a book until the summer of 1999, while I was getting an associates degree in Office Technology (because "glorified secretary" was the best I thought I could do). I don't remember exactly why, but I'd made up my mind: I was going to write a book. A romance. Because I loved reading romance.

I wrote the whole thing in a single-subject spiral bound notebook. In three weeks. Keep in mind, this was back in the Dark Ages. The Internet was new (I had dial-up and was using the "free month of AOL" CDs they sent everyone in the mail, and contacting AOL to complain about the service at the end of every month -- and then they'd give me another month free). Amazon was just a cool new website for buying books -- Kindle was still many, many years away.

I managed to figure out that in order to make my book "real," I needed an "agent." So I typed it up and printed out a bunch of copies (at the copy shop, because doing that on a home printer was totally out of the question), and started doing all the wrong things. Like mailing out unsolicited copies of the book.

Needless to say, I did not get an agent. But by then I was determined. I was going to be An Author, with lots of readers. I was going to make people feel the way I did about reading the latest Stephen King, the way Bastien felt in The Neverending Story. I wanted people to love my books.

So I wrote another romance. I queried the right way, and I got exactly one agent to request a full. He replied, after reading the whole book (so I presumed) that it was a great premise but the writing did not deliver, or something to that effect. And I decided romance was the problem, so I switched to writing thrillers.

Long story short... I wrote book after book after book. The thrillers didn't get me an agent, but they got me into "self-publishing" via a vanity press, which I had no idea what it was or why it was a bad idea. I paid a lot of money to fail that way. Then I went through a whole bunch of small presses, some fledgling POD and ebook publishers (lots of excitement but a handful of sales... one of the "publishers" was just one woman who subsequently went crazy and shut down. For a while I was convinced my thriller series had driven her there...).

Meanwhile I was writing more stuff. Other thrillers, other romances. Then, since I'd loved fantasy forever and ever, I decided why not try that. I wasn't familiar with the term "urban fantasy" but it had been my "favorite" genre anyway (Labyrinth, The Crow -- these are my favorite movies of all time). I wrote a book that I didn't know was urban fantasy and started querying agents again.

This time I got one. An agent at a big-name, well respected agency known for representing fiction (Jim Butcher is among their clientele). And my agent shopped the urban fantasy I was so excited about to editors far and wide. I was sure I'd made it and I would have loads of happy readers any day now. But no editor wanted to buy the book. It wasn't "genre" enough.

So I wrote another urban fantasy, sure that this time it would work. After fifteen months of shopping it, my agent got me a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster. Yay! So exciting!

They dropped me after the first book failed to become a mega bestseller. They published the second book, as per the contract, with absolutely zero fanfare, and it sunk like a stone. I was so very disillusioned after the sure-fire guarantee commercial publishing contract failed to make me a success, that I couldn't finish writing a book for years.

Let's fast-forward now through many years of failing at self-publishing. Most recently before now, I did a series of romance novellas and started making extremely low four-figure months, somewhat consistently, and thought at last, I have found success! But even that sank lower and lower, and subsequent releases failed to deliver the somewhat middling performance of the earlier books. Still, this showed me that I *could* do it. I just had to do it *right*. With the right books.

And then -- our house was foreclosed on. We had to move suddenly, into an apartment, after escaping apartment life for what we thought was forever. And I decided... I absolutely love urban fantasy, and that's what I'm writing. Even if it flops hard. Because life is too short, and I just lost my house, and I had to give my cats away and that broke my heart, and screw everything. I'm writing fantasy and that's it.

I had this idea for a series that I'd started and scrapped dozens of times -- wrong main character, wrong setting, wrong plot. After the huge, disruptive move, I finally came up with the right elements for that story.

And the first Gideon Black book came out of all that. This time I followed all the self-publishing standards for success: Great cover, blurb, keywords... and story. Or so I'd like to think. Now, with book 2 in the series out, both books are ranking sub-1000 and I'm literally making more money than I ever have in my life, ever, after working an endless stream of part-time, low-skill, minimum-wage, and barely-professional jobs while trying to make a go of "this writing thing."

PART II: My advice

Here's what I did to make these books successful:

-Spent a lot of time learning how to write. Read, read, read, and write, write, write. Craft is absolutely an essential ingredient. There's so much focus on the self-pub industry on cover, blurbs, genre tropes, keywords, and marketing. These things are important. But the writing HAS to come first.

-Got an amazingly awesome cover (shout-out to Lou Harper!). Seriously, I think cover is the second most important thing next to the story. Do not skimp on the cover. Invest in it. It's crucial.

-Really worked the hell out of writing a blurb that would get "OMG I have to read this now" reactions. Posted it here on Kboards and asked for feedback before publishing (thank you, everyone who gave me "OMG I have to read this now" reactions, and also advice on how to tweak it -- you have my eternal gratitude :) )

-Launched at 99 cents and promoted the debut price with BargainBooksy, BKnights, and Facebook ads (which I have no idea how effective they were/are... if I were you, I'd figure out how to track conversions on FB ads. I'm sure there's a way to do it.)

And that is all I did. All the rest was Amazon algorithms, and a good dose of luck.

Basically, I just want this post to reinforce that you do not need to go crazy trying all the marketing, all the tricks, all the endless revisions and relaunches and huge crazy promotion schedules (also, I would like to note here that if a book/series is not working, in most cases, all the changes in the world are not going to make it work. I have three or four floundering series that prove it. With the way Amazon works, only something brand new is going to kickstart things. Keep writing new things. When you have something that takes off, THEN you'll be able to get some more love for your older stuff. And of course, YMMV here because I know jump-starting older stuff has occasionally worked for some folks).

Love what you're doing and write awesome books. And give your awesome books their very best chance with great covers, blurbs, and keywords, and *judicious* marketing (i.e. marketing that's been proven to work). Repeat until you're successful.

Here's hoping it does not take you as long as it took me. :)

ETA: Series. I need to add that. Good writing, cover, blurbs, keywords, marketing, and write in a series. The often-repeated advice is usually the best... so follow that. :)

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Writers' Cafe / Responding to readers on Amazon forums...?
« on: February 19, 2016, 07:38:51 am »
Hi everyone,

This is NOT about reviews (don't worry, I am totally on board with the never-ever-respond-to-reviews theory). :)

A customer has asked in my Amazon forum (I didn't even know I had an Amazon forum, but I guess there's one for every author... no one's ever used mine before! I'm excited!) whether there will be a sequel to my new book. There will be -- I'm working (really really hard) on getting it out by the first week of March.

The question is, do I respond to the customer and confirm there's a sequel coming? Or is that still seen as creepy / stalkerish / a big no-no for authors?

Thanks!

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Writers' Cafe / Cover & blurb #58,027 (comments welcome!)
« on: January 24, 2016, 06:26:54 am »
There are so many of these threads on Kboards... I thought I'd add another. :)

This is the cover and blurb for my new urban fantasy. I'm very nervous -- starting this year in a new direction from last year and refocusing on this author name (my real one, actually) after a few years of trying pen names with marginal results. This is basically a return to the genre and writing style I'm most passionate about. Long story, but I had an experience that made me unable to write urban fantasy for years... but now I'm back! I think. :D

Anyway... ta-da! Cover design by the fabulous Lou Harper, and blurb by me. If anyone has suggestions about the blurb (which is only 164 words but seems too long, I guess), I'd love to hear them -- I still have a few days to tweak before my promos start running.

Thanks for looking! :)



WRONG SIDE OF HELL
The DeathSpeaker Codex – Book 1

"The dead never bothered me. That honor was reserved for the living."

Hauling dead people around Manhattan is all in a day’s work for body mover Gideon Black. He lives in his van, talks to corpses, and occasionally helps the police solve murders. His life may not be normal, but it’s simple enough.

Until the corpses start talking back.

When Gideon accidently rescues a werewolf in Central Park, he’s drawn into the secret world of the Others. Fae, were-shifters, magic-users and more, all playing a deadly cat-and-mouse game with Milus Dei, a massive and powerful cult dedicated to hunting down and eradicating them all.

Then a dead man speaks to him, saying that Milus Dei wants him more than any Other. They’ll stop at nothing to capture him and control the abilities he never knew he had.

He is the DeathSpeaker. He is the key. And he’s not as human as he thought…

Life was a whole lot easier when the dead stayed dead.

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Hi everyone -- just looking to see if anyone has experienced this recently, so I can make a decision. If you upload a book to KDP on the weekend, about how long until it goes live? Hours...days?

I'm asking because in my limited weekend-uploading experience, it's been considerably longer than weekday uploading (and in any case, it's always a huge variance in time-to-live, no matter when you upload).

I have a new release that I'd planned to upload on Monday, but it's done now. I'd like to get it live earlier if possible so I have more time for the Look Inside to start working, hopefully before the handful of promos I've got running next week. But if it's going to take 3 or 4 days until it's live because I'm uploading on the weekend, I'll (sigh) wait until Monday...

The book is not romance or erotica, so it shouldn't get hung up by Carlos, at least. :)

Any experiences you can share would be great. Thanks in advance!

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Welcome to Covendale: Beginnings Collection (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X83S94K) is just 99 cents on Amazon, now through August 14. Included are three complete romance novels, the first trilogy in the Welcome to Covendale series by Morgan Blaze.



This box set includes:

COWBOY'S PRIDE (Cam & Sydney)
A cowboy fighting to keep his ranch reconnects with an old flame when she asks for his help marrying another man -- who happens to be the one threatening to take the ranch from him.

SOLDIER'S CHOICE (Reese & Luka)
An ex-Marine returns home to face the shadows of his past, and falls for the woman who was the reason he left.

DEPUTY'S SECRET (Nick & Emma)
A small-town cop living a dangerous double life as an MMA fighter gets involved with a female reporter who's intent on exposing his alter ego.

Get this deal here! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X83S94K

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Writers' Cafe / (Oh NO, not another) cry for blurb help... !
« on: July 23, 2015, 03:36:54 pm »
Well, I know how much everyone on Kboards loves endless threads asking for blurb help, so here's another one! /sarcasm

I really tried so hard not to post one of these. I was like "gonna write my blurb, and that's that." But I have a promo tomorrow and I started playing around with the blurb -- and I ended up writing a completely different version instead of just tweaking. And now I have no freakin' clue which one I should use... (or maybe they both suck!).

Anyway, here are both versions. (btw, the book is a novel-length thriller). I'm ignoring a few "rules", like blurbs MUST NOT have questions and blurbs CAN ONLY BE two paragraphs long -- but if they are too long or the question doesn't work, I'm quite willing to hear critiques. I can take it. :D

So... does either of these blurbs make you want to read the book? Thanks so much for any thoughts / opinions / rants!

--------------
TERMINAL CONSENT

BLURB 1 (now with minor tweaks!.... ugh, blurbs :P)

How do you stop a killer when the victims are desperate to die?

After witnessing a brutal event he was never meant to see, Captain Ozzy Stone served four years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Now released to pick up the broken pieces of his life, the ex-soldier turned convict finds a nasty surprise waiting in his hometown: his former cellmate, Roman Blade.

Blade, a disgraced hacker with a complicated past, is working security at a BDSM fantasy club when Stone shows up to ruin his life -- again. His employer hires Stone as a bouncer, and Blade makes it his personal mission to put the man through hell at work until he can take permanent revenge for what Stone did to him in prison.

But when a killer kidnaps a young woman who works at the club -- and someone's playing pin-the-blame on the ex-cons -- Stone and Blade are forced to work together to clear their names. Their reluctant partnership uncovers an organized network of voluntary death by torture, wrapped in a conspiracy that penetrates the top levels of the military.

And time is running out as they race to rescue a woman who doesn't want to be saved.

-------------------------

BLURB 2

Desperate times. Deadly measures.

Two men who share a dark past are about to discover that miracles come at the highest possible cost...

Ozzy Stone was a decorated soldier--until he was convicted of a crime that never happened.

Roman Blade was an elite hacker--until a technicality turned a simple revenge hack into a federal crime.

Stone and Blade shared a cell in prison--until a brutal attack landed one in solitary, and the other at death's door.

Two years later, they're reunited when Stone, fresh out of prison, takes a job as a bouncer at a BDSM fantasy club...only to find Blade already working there.

The tension between them escalates quickly. But when violence erupts in their small town and someone's playing pin-the-blame on the ex-cons, this unlikely pair must work together to clear their names and stop a group of ruthless killers who grant wishes to the hopeless--and take their payments in blood.



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Writers' Cafe / Cover battle! Which ones suck less...
« on: July 15, 2015, 06:11:03 am »
So I have this contemporary romance series (with a good dash of suspense) and it's doing pretty well by my standards. My standards being actually getting a few sales and borrows every day -- I'm just coming off a great promo with The Midlist (thank you, The Midlist!) so they're higher than normal, but pre-promo I'd been getting 10 - 15 sales and around 5K pages in borrows daily across the series, give or take.

ETA: There are about a thousand revisions in this thread now. :D

Anyway, I'm thinking my covers could be better. Or maybe I'm wrong about the redesign and headed in the wrong direction. The series is small town romance, steamy heat level (open door) but not terribly explicit, so definitely not erotic. I have a concept in mind for redoing the covers. Here are the first two current covers:

thumb

thumb

(man, I hope those images show up right) And here are the new ones:

thumb

thumb

Hopefully, you can see what I'm going for here...

So what do y'all think? Which set is less sucky and/or more interesting / genre-appropriate / whatever? Or are they all horrible and should I just go sell some blood...?

Thanks very much for any thoughts / opinions!

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Writers' Cafe / Quick question: How often are preorder sales updated?
« on: July 11, 2015, 08:24:16 am »
Just wondering if anyone knows how often Amazon updates preorder sales unit numbers. I would imagine they aren't updated as often as dashboard sales... is that right?

But if anyone has a rough idea -- like whether they're updated once a day, a few times a day, every hour or so, so frequently that I am currently offering the worst-performing preorder ever (:P) -- I'd love to know. You would be helping me back away from the refresh button and get some work done. :D

Thanks!

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ETA: It appears there are lots of us writing serials here, so I thought I'd make this a general thread about writing, launching, releasing, and marketing serials. Feel free to jump in, introduce yourself and your serial(s), and keep us updated on how you're doing!

Original post (all thoughts on this still appreciated!):

Hey all,

I'm writing my first serial and I'm super excited. :D I have outlines and loads of notes for 6 "seasons" with about 10 episodes each, with the episodes about 15K - 20K words. The first episode is totally complete and I have season 1 covers, and I'm working on episode 2 now.

I'm trying to wait until I have 3 episodes written so I can release them at the same time, since that seems to work well for series. But... now I'm wondering if I should just go ahead and put episode 1 out there now while I'm writing the next one (because if this serial completely flops, I don't want to put 2+ years into writing more of it... that would make me a sad panda).

My planned release schedule is every two weeks. I can finish an episode in less time than that (a week to a week and a half), so eventually I'd get ahead of myself, which would be a good thing. But should I try instead to get way ahead and release weekly...?

So, the short version of my questions:

1. Should I put the first episode out now, or wait and put three out at once?
2. Is a weekly or bi-weekly release schedule better? Or does it not matter...?

The genre is urban fantasy / gothic romance / Arthurian, if that matters. :D

Thank you for your thoughts! (And if you have any other thoughts on serials in general, I'd love to hear those too!  :-*)

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Writers' Cafe / Which pen name should I use? Ack!
« on: April 29, 2015, 06:04:36 am »
Hi guys -- I have a dilemma, and I'm hoping all you smart folks here will lend me your thoughts. I'll try to keep the explanation concise. :)

Currently, I have three pen names. They are:

Pen name 1: My real name. Two trade published urban fantasies (Simon & Schuster), a few years old and never really sold well. Two unrelated self-pubbed paranormal romances, not performing too great (single digit sales / month).

Pen name 2: A hybrid pen name (the one in my sig). One self-pubbed thriller series, performs meh (permafree, double digit monthly sales, mostly on the boxed set), plus one trade pubbed M/M paranormal romance series that did really well for quite a while but is now trickling down to meh. Some slight crossover between audiences for this one, as I have a handful of readers who'll follow this name regardless of genre.

Pen name 3: Relatively new (launched in December '14) self-pubbed, solid performing pen name. Contemporary romance series (steamy, but not erotic), very branded, in KU and about 40/60 sales to borrows, decent sales that are ebbing but hopefully will pick up with my new release next week.

Pen name 3 is the most active (the other two haven't had new releases in a year and almost two years, respectively). So one would think that would be the natural choice for something new, but...

I'm starting a new series (actually a serial) which I'm going to write concurrently with the pen name 3 series. The serial will be M/F sweet paranormal/gothic romance, based on Arthurian legend and set in modern day. It will have marginal crossover with pen name 2's M/M paranormal series, mostly a bit of the world-building, but possibly one or two characters will make an appearance. Probably just the Seelie King. :D

So... which pen name should I use for the serial? 1, 2, 3, or (ugh) make a new pen name? I'll do option 4 (new pen name) if it's the best choice, but I will be a sad panda for a bit. :P

Any and all thoughts are much appreciated. Thanks!

19
So, I'm having one of those days. This happens to me about once a month (and yes, I am female, and yes, it's partly because of... that). I'm completely unmotivated and unproductive.

So far I have done everything except work. I fixed my mailbox that the plow knocked over last week (no, I don't like getting mail, how did you guess?). I cleaned out my car (because I lost my debit card  :'( - not related to my unproductive-ness, just extremely bad timing since it's adding to the stress). I filled the cats' bowls (even though they weren't empty). I cleaned up some office clutter. I adjusted some keywords and scheduled a promotion. Now I'm tempted to go spend a few hours reading stuff on Cracked.

Problem is, I'm a freelance writer and I have deadlines. Like, today deadlines. But I cannot make myself work because It's One Of Those Days. (You'd think I would have this figured out by now... but it blindsides me every time). So I figured that while I'm procrastinating, I'd come here and ask all you writerly people how you get yourself going when the last thing you want to do is write coherent sentences and paragraphs.

If you'd be kind enough to share your tricks, maybe something will work. Especially if it works for you during that time when you need chocolate and salt and a good sappy movie and something to punch and you're female -- though any and all thoughts / ideas are welcome. :D

Thanks!  :-*

20
Writers' Cafe / My Big Fat Thank You and (so far) Effective Strategy Post
« on: January 16, 2015, 06:54:35 am »
WARNING: VERY LONG POST AHEAD! :)

Hey all -- it seems the time has come for me to give back, after all the great help and advice I've found here on Kboards. I don't know how useful these kinds of posts are, but if it helps out or inspires anyone, I'll be happy!

I'm writing this post now because, provided the KU payout stays about where it is now for January (or even if it goes a little lower), I'm officially into my first four-figure month of self-publishing (and it's only mid-month!).

So, here's what I learned, what I've done, and what I'm planning to do...

Background: I started self-publishing after the "gold rush," at the end of 2012. During that time when everyone seemed to be getting rich overnight with KDP, all of my books were tied up with publishers. And I had an agent (I still do, technically), and I was writing with an eye for commercial publishing. However, I'd also had a pretty decent (advance-wise) two-book deal with Simon & Schuster that was in the middle of dying horribly, and I was extremely disillusioned that the lifelong dream of being a "real published author" did not match the reality, at all.

Those books sank like stones, by the way, because the publisher just kind of flung them out and forgot about them. But I digress.

I had this thriller series that had been out with a few publishers (and failed), but I still believed in it. I got the rights back and self-published the series. And I did everything wrong... I mean EVERYTHING. Awful homemade covers, ridiculous blurbs. Didn't advertise. Sat back and despaired about not selling. Over the next few years I kind of lost any desire to write because everything I did failed. I managed to put out a few standalones during this time, most of which I intended to be series, but I never took them further because I got so discouraged, I just couldn't write.

How things turned around: I decided I wasn't ready to give up just yet, but I also wasn't ready to keep writing my heart out for nothing. I love writing, I truly do -- but I've been sacrificing so much to continue writing that I just can't do it with absolutely no return. So I started researching in earnest, and I spent a lot of time on Kboards, taking in all the advice I could. And in December 2014, I went for it:

My strategy: Going for quality and volume at the same time, in a popular genre but tailored to what I enjoy writing. I decided to go for Select because I launched a new pen name, and I wanted the visibility everyone kept saying you could get with it. And I wanted to get things going before Christmas, hoping to take advantage of the holiday / post-new-Kindles buying spree and increased KU enrollment.

Here's what I did:
-Contemporary romance / romantic suspense series
-Almost-category length (30K to 40K)
-Steamy (descriptive sex scenes) but not erotic

I wanted to put three out at once in the beginning, but I knew I'd never get the third one written before Christmas, so I released two complete books and a pre-order during the second week of December, with the preorder scheduled to release in early January. (And let me tell you... I don't think I'll EVER put up a preorder again unless the book's already written. It was a mad, crazy rush to get it finished and the final version uploaded in time -- two hours before the deadline!).

Branding: I had good-looking and professional (in my opinion) branded covers with a series look, strong blurbs (I hope -- though I did end up rewriting the blurb for the second book, and once I did sales immediately picked up). I have a titling scheme -- I don't use a word that repeats in every title, but each title uses the same construction.

Each story in the series is standalone, featuring a different couple, and they're related via location (similar to Rosalind James' New Zealand series). Mine is set in a fictional small town, and there are several minor recurring characters. There's also some main character overlap, but every book is a different couples' story and any of them can be read alone.

Pricing/Promotions: Initially I priced all of them at $2.99 (plus they're in Select, so "free" through KU). I used all five free days for the first book only, and split them up. I ran 3 free days soon after everything released, and promoted them with:

-Bknights
-GenrePulse
-eBookHounds

All with very decent results. Those three days generated 3,400+ downloads, and sales/borrows picked right up for all the books and stayed there, averaging 20 - 30 per day combined.

Then I used the other 2 Select free days after book 3 went live in early January, and promoted them with:

-Bknights
-Booklovers Heaven
-Bookbasset
-Flurries of Words

During those two days, I had over 4,500 downloads of the first book and the number was still going up fast at the end of day 2. If I had another free day, I would've extended it. I also dropped the price of the first book permanently to 99 cents as a loss leader, effective after the second free-day run.

Sales and borrows went up again after the free days, and they've not only stayed up, they continue to rise slowly. I'm now averaging 50+ per day in combined sales and borrows (hence my very first ever four-figure month!). The first book's rank stays between 4K and 6K, and the other two bounce around from 10K to 18K-ish.

I'm working madly to write book 4, which I intend to have published by early February -- even though life keeps trying to prevent me from writing. It was extremely difficult pushing myself to get those first three out when I did, and it's proving extremely difficult to get this next one ready. But if I do, and if my sales make another big step up with the release...well, I can cut back on my bill-paying work and I'll have more time to write (and therefore less stress).

THANK YOU: To Rosalind James, YodaRead, gorvnice, Annie Jacoby, EAW (I know you love those initials!), Wayne Stinnett, Cinisajoy (because you're awesome), Evenstar, Someone, Sarah Dalton (whom I know from That Other Board, back when I was discouraged and hopeless), and probably other people that I'm forgetting, for sharing all of your advice and encouragement and strategies, and what has worked for you. I've learned so much from all of you -- I'd never have even this small success compared to yours without your willingness to share.

And a huge THANK YOU to absolutely EVERYONE on Kboards. Things might get tense around here sometimes, but this is a great place with a lot of varied and wonderful points of view, and I appreciate every single one of you.

I do hope this helps someone out there (and I apologize again for the very long post!). Just for a little more perspective and hopefully inspiration, I've been trying to "make it" as a writer for 18 years now, and I'm just starting to see what might be success. And that doesn't mean it will take you 18 years (others have done it in far less!). It just means this: If you want it, DON'T GIVE UP. Keep learning, keep trying new things.

P.S. I do apologize for yet another post that can't be substantiated because I'm not revealing my pen name. Unfortunately, two of my three releases are still in a very vulnerable state, where a few of those infamous drive-by reviewers could torpedo them in five minutes. If that sort of thing happened, it would kill my momentum, and very likely my will to keep going. It's been a really long, really hard road to get here!

21
Just wondering what the approximate publishing times are now... I know they've been getting longer. Used to be 12 hours from uploaded to published, almost like clockwork. Alas, that is not the case now.  :P

Basically I'm trying to make myself stop refreshing my dashboard. :D

So...has anyone published to KDP recently? How long until you went live? Thank you!

22
Writers' Cafe / Stupid question about launching a new pen name
« on: December 06, 2014, 10:47:43 am »
Hi folks,

So I've come to understand that overall author performance matters on Amazon, at least somewhat. And I've also seen people talking about launching new pen names (whether it's to separate genres or to start fresh because an old name isn't doing so great).

I'm wondering, for those who launch new pen names for a fresh start: Do you make a whole new KDP account? Does Amazon treat all the names under your account as associated, so that if one name isn't performing well it drags others down?

Or do you just publish books under a different name in your existing KDP account? Is the "author factor" in rankings and algorithms separated that way?

I hope this makes more sense than I think it does... thank you in advance to anyone who can weigh in on this. :)

23
Hi folks,

I was wondering if anyone would be willing / able to recommend a cover designer who does thrillers (specializing in thrillers would be nice, but not a necessity) and operates in the range of $100 to $300 or so for custom book covers.

I know there are a bunch of cover designers on this board, so I'm happy to hear from you as well. :)

Thanks so much for any suggestions / recommendations you can make.

24
Of course, this isn't the first cover I've ever had... but it's the first time I've gotten to do a "reveal" (and only for you, Kboards! :D)

So anyway... herewith, the cover for my upcoming paranormal romance, designed by Yoly from Cormar Covers (thank you, Yoly!):



(I sure hope that thumbnail thing works :P)

And also Le Blurb for Demon's Song, with which several fabulous Kboarders helped me (thank you, Colleen V, Lummox Jr and Victorine :) ):

Lead us into temptation.

A demon's job is to corrupt as many souls as possible. But for Jaeryth, there's only one soul, one woman he's interested in: Logan Frost. His obsession with her causes his performance to suffer, so the Prince of Hell strips him of his demonic status and sends him to the mortal realm on one last mission -- turn Logan to Hell's side, or kill her.

An eternity of torture awaits him if he fails.

Logan, a struggling singer and recovering meth addict fresh out of rehab, has no idea she's destined to change the world. She only wants to survive. But she's hallucinating black-eyed figures that no one else sees -- and when she meets Jaeryth, who can see them too, her instant attraction deepens. Still, something isn't right about this gorgeous stranger who's never tried chocolate and doesn't seem to know how pants work.

As the legions of Hell fight harder to destroy Logan before her powerful influence spreads, Jaeryth is called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. Meanwhile, Logan faces an impossible choice: save millions of souls... or the one who matters to her most.

-------

Whee, I'm super excited! Just wanted to share all my happies with you guys. :)

25
Writers' Cafe / Le blurb, she is... how you say? Le sucky. :-(
« on: June 16, 2014, 07:16:29 am »
Hi guys. :) So... I've seen you all transform blurbs into amazing shape, because you're all awesome like that, and I wondered if anyone would be willing to sprinkle a little magic blurb dust on this steaming pile of crap for this book I'm going to be releasing in a few weeks (EEP!!!)...

Like many of us, I can help other people with blurbs -- but writing my own is like Tom Hanks in Cast Away doing dental work with an ice skate and a rock. :(

This is a novel-length (80K) paranormal romance, first in a series. I think it's probably too long, and probably boring, and probably The Worst Blurb Ever Written In The History Of Books. I'm addicted to em dashes and starting sentences with conjunctions. Also ellipses. And sentence fragments.

Thank you in advance for any opinions, advice, and/or wrecking balls. :)

DEMON’S SONG

Lead us into temptation.

A demon’s job is to corrupt as many souls as possible. But for Jaeryth, there’s only one human he’s interested in: Logan Frost, who happens to be a Prophet. When his obsession with her causes his performance to suffer, the Prince of Hell strips him of his demonic status and sends him to the mortal realm on a punishing mission. He must turn Logan to Hell’s side, or kill her—and if he fails, an eternity of torture awaits him.

Logan, a struggling singer and recovering meth addict fresh out of rehab, has no idea she’s destined to change the world. She only wants to survive. But she’s hallucinating black-eyed figures that no one else sees—and when she meets Jaeryth, who can see the creatures too, her instant attraction deepens. Still, something isn’t right about this gorgeous stranger who’s never tried chocolate and doesn’t seem to know how pants work.

As Logan and her new band experience a rapid rise to fame and her power as a Prophet grows, the legions of Hell fight harder to destroy her. Jaeryth soon realizes that what he thought was obsession is something else entirely: He loves her. And the only way she’ll survive is if he tells her the truth—and then leaves her, because his presence is making her a target.

But the Prince of Hell isn’t finished with Logan. To spare her, Jaeryth will be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice...and Logan must choose between saving millions of souls, or the one who matters to her most.

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