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Here Comes the Flood

I live in Lafayette, Louisiana, and if you’ve watched the news the past few days, you know we’ve gotten a lot of rain down here. I’m personally okay. Luckily I’m in a neighborhood and house that’s relatively high elevation. But it’s heartbreaking to see pics from people around here whose homes are destroyed underwater. Waking up this morning, it looks like it didn’t rain too hard last night, but the rain is supposed to keep coming over the next few days.

I guess it’s fine for a writer to be trapped indoors, but I am going a little stir crazy anyway. We had a curfew in place last night starting at 7pm, mostly because people are just too irresponsible to stay indoors and they didn’t want to overwhelm police and rescue workers. I’m going to go out today and try to load up on groceries. I just hope there are some open stores.

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Wrapping it Up

So I wrote the ending to Dragon Blue today. The only problem is that I’ve come in at around 47K words. So I need to flesh out some of the earlier chapters to get over 50K. I really don’t want to get in the habit of publishing books under 50K. I really feel like that’s a hard minimum.

Anyway, The Time-Traveling Outlaw has dipped down and hovered in the 300-400 rank for Time Travel Romance. I went ahead and changed up some of my keywords as well. For some reason I had keywords that put it in the Romantic Comedy subcategory, which is just wrong. That’s fixed now. Speaking of categorization, I find the entire system very arcane. For those not familiar with the process, when you upload your book, you manually select two categories from drop-down lists. That puts your book in those two categories. But then using keywords, your book also gets slotted into additional categories. I’m not exactly sure why, even if you had the most genre-bending story, you would really need more than 3 categories to classify your book. The keyword system just seems ripe for abuse.

I’ll figure it out as I go, I guess.

In other news, there was a ton of rain and flooding around here today. Cars underwater and whatnot. But around my house was fine. Just kind of a dreary day, only good for staying home and writing. I’m pretty happy I “finished” the book, though it still needs some additional content and of course some editing. Hopefully I’ll get some of that done over the weekend. Hope all you out there have a good one!

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The Struggle is Real

Some days go better than others. Today I’m filled with all sorts of doubts.

The Time-Traveling Outlaw struggled in and out of the top 100 of Time Travel Romance over the weekend, and even Monday. But yesterday it dropped into the 200s, and now it’s around 300. I kind of expected it, though I had hoped for some kind of minor miracle to snowball sales. I have another promo that I couldn’t schedule until the end of the month. It’ll be interesting to see what that does, especially since it should roughly coincide with the release of my new book.

Speaking of which, I’m near the 75% mark and struggling with the plot, which is usually my strong suit. Production this week has been great, roughly 4K words per day. I was thinking maybe I could go all out and get 5K a day and finish this thing off, but man, that’s just a lot of words. And if I don’t have everything smoothly plotted out ahead of time, there’s just no way. Anyway, I know how I want things to turn out. I’m just struggling on the particulars to get there.

I’m also spending a lot of time on non-love scenes. I’d hoped this book would have room for a lot more bedroom action than the last. It has more sex, but I’m not finding natural places for as many as I’d like. Also [spoiler alert] I’m beginning to doubt the decision to have the heroine be more proactive than my hero. He’s the one in trouble, and she’s the one who bails him out. I’m not sure whether readers are going to balk at that. I guess we’ll see, and I’ll adjust accordingly.

Anyway, I’m off to try to pound out a few thousand more words and work through my plot issues. Thanks for reading along if you’re there!

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New Blog Review of The Time-Traveling Outlaw

Vicki Goodwin over at The Page Turner posted a review of The Time-Traveling Outlaw, giving it 5/5. She wrote:

Macy writes of the struggles of a woman alone in the old west as she struggles not to be manipulated by the town bully and his crew. Her writing brought everything brilliantly to life.
Weaving the past and the future into a remarkable tale that allows you to become invested in Logan’s life. There is a wonderful sense of hope and love in this story.

There are some steamy bedrooms scenes that even thougth I personally didn’t find them overdone, might be more than expected.

Overall, I enjoyed this book so much. Really well written and such an original concept. Macy Babineaux takes Sci-Fi and makes it emotional and interesting for the rest of us.

If you enjoy a sweet tender story of romance, hardships and the chance of finding love again after the pain of losing before, then you will enjojy this book. The characters are good together and are just as surprised with their own feelings as the story unfolds. the time travel aspect is important to the concept, but is not too technical and scientific to understand, while just scientific to make you believe. There are scenes that might be considered rated R. I really enjoyed the book.

The full review is here:

Book Review: The Time Traveling Outlaw by Ma​cy Babineaux

 

 

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The Home Stretch

I’m well past the halfway point in my latest novel, Dragon Blue: A Lie That’s True. I feel like if I really push myself this week I can probably knock out most of the rest of the book. If I really, really push myself I might have a draft by the end of the week. The book has two main plotlines: the first and most important is the transportation of Miranda into Xandakar, meeting Corban, and the development of their relationship. While falling in love with Corban, she begins to learn things about herself she never knew, mysteries from her past.

The second plotline is revealed in an early chapter, but doesn’t really get going until past the halfway point in the book. Corban’s father had gone missing about a year ago. Though the rest of the clan believed he was dead, Corban continued to investigate his disappearance, believing he was still alive. The truth of his disappearance coincides with the introduction of the bad guys, intruding on Corban and Miranda’s newfound feelings for one another.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t know exactly how things are going to turn out (other than that they will work out for the best). I do have some ideas, but the particulars are just going to have to come out in the writing. Hopefully the words will continue to flow this week and I’ll have a solid draft very soon.

As for TTTO (The Time-Traveling Outlaw), it dipped in and out of the top 100 in Time Travel Romance all weekend, moving from an overall rank in the Amazon store between 17K and 22K. This was on the back of only selling between 5-10 copies per day on average, which I have to admit is a little disappointing. I would have thought breaking the top 100 in just about any romance category would have led to higher sales than that. This is my first novel. With a catalog of a dozen books, all selling at that pace, I could see making a decent amount of money. But I’m pretty sure you can’t count on older titles continuing to sell consistently. Coming from erotica, dipping my toe in the romance pool, I’m not seeing the massive incentive to be here yet. Maybe older titles have more sticking power in romance. Maybe just building up a loyal fan base is enough to snowball the whole thing. In the meantime, I’m going to keep my head down and keep writing, and keep planning for a splashier release of my next book.

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The Appeal of Romance

I’m relatively new to the romance game. I mean, I’ve always enjoyed romantic comedies and romance subplots, but I’d never written any romance until recently. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that being the dominant fiction genre in the market is part of the draw. But there are other things that drew me to it as well.

One is the focus on relationships. I’d written sci-fi and fantasy in the past, and a lot of my stories focused on ideas, rather than people and their relationships. They were high-concept, but felt flat. Because you might read it and think the idea was cool, but that didn’t matter so much because you didn’t care what happened to the characters. Writing romance has forced me to focus on the people and how they feel about each other, which really should be the core of any good story.

Another big draw is the reader expectation of HEA, or happily ever after endings.

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I mean, I like dark things. I like twisted movies and books. But as I get older I think I appreciate art that makes me feel good. Bad memories are more salient, that’s just the way our brains work. Reading and watching stuff that makes us feel good is almost therapeutic. I think that’s a large part of the appeal. Also, in real life, the good guys don’t always win. Love doesn’t always conquer all. But there’s nothing wrong with entering a world where we know everything is going to work out all right, where our heroine will find the man she’s always been looking for.

We get to choose what we want to read, and in the middle of world events that often make us depressed or exasperated, turning to something bright and wonderful is sometimes the only sane choice.

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Breaking the Top 100

So I started a promo yesterday on The Time-Traveling Outlaw that also runs through today. The sales are actually well below my expectations for the promo, but we’ll see what today brings.

But…the book is apparently doing well enough that it broke into the Top 100 Best-Selling Kindle eBooks Time Travel Romance. It’s sitting at #80 right now. Again, this is a subcategory dominated by highlanders, so the increased visibility may not do much if readers are browsing mostly for guys in kilts. On the other hand, maybe it will stand out in a crowd if people are looking for something slightly different. Here are the current numbers:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,924 Paid in Kindle Store
#80 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Time Travel
#115 in Books > Romance > Time Travel
#392 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Westerns

Ideally the book would get additional sales from the visibility, allowing it to maintain that ranking for at least a few days, then creating that feedback loop I talked about in another post. But I won’t be entirely surprised if it slips back out of the Top 100. It was cool just to be able to break through.

However, I have to admit it’s a little disappointing in another respect. I thought Romance was such a powerhouse category on Amazon that breaking through in the top 100 in just about any subcategory meant very good sales/page reads, but it looks like I made it with actually very lackluster numbers.

I’m also curious to see if there’s a bump if it makes it into the Top 100 in Books>Romance>Time Travel in addition to eBooks. Breaking the 20,000 overall ranking also seems reasonably strong. I just hope it’s reflected in the bottom line. Time will tell.

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Word Counts and Productivity

I used to have a goal of 1000 words per day, and I thought that was pretty good. But after listening to several podcasts with indie authors stressing faster release cycles and talking about writing thousands of words per hour, I figured I needed to step up my game. I was having some issues with wrist pain as well, so I tried dictation software. It worked all right, but overall I prefer typing. With the software, I was able to churn out a lot more words, but a strange thing happened…the software would fill in correctly-spelled words, just not the ones I wanted. It’s also troublesome if you have strange character/place names, slang, or you want to format sentences in slightly unusual ways. So raw word production was much better, but editing was also a much bigger pain in the butt.

Also, I do a fair amount of editing while typing. I’ll back up several times during writing a given sentence because I’ll decide I want to finish that sentence with a different wording. This kind of backpedaling is a pain with dictation software.

So I switched back to the good old keyboard. Maybe at some point I’ll try the software again, but for now I’m just old school. So how many words a day do I put in now? My hard goal every day is at least 2000 words, though I’m actually not very happy if that’s all I write. My soft target is 3000. I’m reasonably happy with that. While writing The Time-Traveling Outlaw, most days I got down 3000, and some days I got to 4000. I usually only write on weekdays, so that’s about 20 days per month. That means a 60,000-word novel per month at bare minimum, but that’s unedited. I need at least 3-5 days editing. I feel like a novel per month is a solid release cycle, so that’s what I’m aiming at for the rest of 2016.

Dragon Blue is currently sitting at 30,000 words. The writing is going well. I’m in a very meaty part of the book, so the words are flowing nicely. The plot points directly ahead are all very clear. So I’m hoping to have the first draft of the book done in two weeks. Like I said in the last post, I’m going to try to ramp up my preparation for launch on this one. I’m going to have a longer pre-order period, maybe 10 days, and really beat the bushes on advance readers. I’m also going to try to line up promos for launch day, though many of the more effective ones (or so I’ve heard) require a certain number of reviews, which are hard to get before release.

One last note: I’m running a promo today on The Time-Traveling Outlaw, the most I’ve spent on a promo. I’m only spending $50, but that still feels like a lot. Hopefully it will bump me into bestseller range in my subcategories. I’ll report back on that either this weekend or Monday. Hope you all have a good weekend!

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Strategies for my Next Book

So first another update on The Time-Traveling Outlaw. It’s holding relatively steady in the 30-40K ranking overall and in the 100-200 range in Time Travel Romance. Yesterday the book had over 1000 page reads and today I already have about 500 page reads, making my revenue from page reads significantly higher than sales revenue for the first time since I’ve been self-publishing. The revenue is still much lower than I’d like it to be, but this is my first full-length novel in romance, and I shouldn’t expect to hit it out of the park on the first swing. There are stories of others doing so, but I’m pretty sure that’s the exception and not the rule. Besides, I did a few things right, but I’m learning, and I expect to do much better with my next book. I’ve got a promo running tomorrow on The Time-Traveling Outlaw, so hopefully that will give it a nice bump. The reviews are very good. I just need some more visibility.

I’m active in a couple of indie author forums. I recently read a bunch of Chris Fox’s stuff, including Write to Market. I listen to both the SFF Marketing Podcast and the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast. I’ve done a good amount of research on my own, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot in the last 6-12 months. One aspect of success seems to be creating feedback loops. My impression is that success breeds more success. That is, if you get a book into a high ranking in one or more subcategories, that increased visibility generates even more sales/reads, which creates a feedback loop, pushing the book higher or helping to keep it high. I haven’t yet broken the top 100 in Time Travel Romance, and I’m really hoping that happens over the weekend with the new promo, because I’d like to see if that really holds true. But as I mentioned in a previous post, Time Travel Romance is crowded with kilts, so it’s possible the increased exposure wouldn’t do me all that much good if a Time Travel Western isn’t what many readers are looking for. Still, I think it can’t hurt. I’m not expecting to try to break the top 100 in Western Romance, since that seems to be much more competitive. Though the one reason I wrote a Time-Travel/Western crossover was because in my research those seemed to be two of the less competitive, but still popular, subcategories.

Anyway, one thing I did for this book was try to line up some ARC (advance reader copy) readers, to try to get some reviews the first few days. That worked okay, but I didn’t have a very good idea of how to go about getting reviewers, so I didn’t get that many. I was also a beta tester for a new ARC service, and that didn’t lead to too many new reviews, either. I think that might be because I chose a weird intersection of subcategories and faltered on the cover, which looks decent, but doesn’t communicate what a lot of romance readers want to read.

For my next book, Dragon Blue, I intend to focus on one subcategory, have a clear cover that communicates the content and steam level of the book, and up the spice level. I also intend to line up a lot more ARC readers. Speaking of which…if you or someone you know would be interested in receiving and advance copy of Dragon Blue for free (in whatever digital format you prefer) in exchange for an honest review, either leave a comment here or send me a message at macybabineaux@gmail.com.