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More Promo Experience

I ran another targeted promo yesterday and it completely bombed. Dragon Blue has been sliding back down in the rankings, so I was hoping to get a nice boost, but the promo was a complete bust. Ah well. Live and learn. It was targeted specifically to readers of paranormal romance, but the exposure of the promo must just be awful. I’m keeping a spreadsheet of which ones worked and which ones didn’t, so I’ll be much better positioned for the next book in the series.

Speaking of which, I’m wrapping up the giveaway novella today. I’ll do some editing tomorrow, then send it out to my mailing list. I hope everyone on my list likes it. The story is pretty short, but I really like the characters and the plot is super-fast-paced and punchy. It might even be too fast-paced. sometimes I need to remind myself to slow the action down a little bit and describe more of the scenery and what’s going on in my hero/heroine’s head. This is a single-POV story, and I feel like I’ve done a decent job with that, but we’ll see on edits.

Then either Friday or Monday I’m going to dive head-long into the next book in the Dragonlords of Xandakar series, Dragon Red. I may not actually start writing until mid-next-week. I want to do a little more outlining than I did for Dragon Blue, with an eye to the story arc that spans the entire series. I’ve got some rough ideas in mind, but I want them a little more solidified before I write the first page.

I’m not expecting much performance out of my books until the next release, but you never know.

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Feel the Sting

I woke up to a back-to-back 1 and 2-star rating of Dragon Blue on Goodreads. No review left, just bad ratings. That’s a little rough, after waves of 4 and 5-star reviews and written reviews of people saying what they liked about it. There’s been a little negative feedback so far. Some people have said there’s too much sex or that it’s too explicit in parts. One review said the central relationship transitioned too fast from dislike into love. That was fair.

But if they don’t say why they didn’t like it, you just have to sit there and take it. Nothing to mull over or think about how to improve. Just a little “you suck”. Ah well. I’ve got a pretty thick skin. Got to get used to such things. Just glad they weren’t the first ratings.

Also in the kind-of-sucky category, yesterday I had two promos going, one on Outlaw and one on Dragon Blue. Sales were, um, not good. I would think holiday weekends would be good for book sales. People might be going to the beach or a cabin or something, and they want something to read while they’re there. Or maybe they want to hide in their rooms when relatives are visiting and just read. But in my limited experience so far, that’s not the case. Maybe all those prospective readers are actually busy with friends and family, or engaged in activities other than reading. Fair enough. I’m going to be reluctant to schedule promos on holiday weekends anymore. It’s all part of the learning process.

So far my most successful promo has been one targeted specifically to shifter readers, which makes a lot of sense. So I think for Dragon Red I’m going to really try to hammer those genre-specific promos and just avoid the generic ones.

We’re going to grill some hamburgers later and just kind of take it easy today. I’m going to try to get some writing in, but we’ll see how that goes. Happy Labor Day!

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Another Promo and a Nice Boost

Yesterday was a good day. I ran a promo suggested by a fellow writer from a forum. The promo was specifically targeted at readers of shifter romances, but I hadn’t come across it before. As a result, Dragon Blue had 46 sales and 2K page reads, which was great. Good enough to vault it up into a couple of different top 100 subcategories and near 5K overall (5,008 was the highest rank I saw). So that’s pretty sweet. I was listening to a podcast yesterday where they talked about “stickiness” for books in the Kindle store, the ability to keep them from slipping in the rankings, without constantly having to bolster them with advertising. The problem was, I didn’t really get at what the author was trying to say. He seemed to be saying that just a really high-quality cover and blurb made the book sticky, but I’m kind of doubting that’s it.

I’m still thinking what’s mostly going on in this market, like so many others, is the economic phenomenon of cumulative advantage, defined in this source as an inequality ” in which a favorable relative position becomes a resource that produces further relative gains”. In other words, being successful makes you more successful. It’s the concept of the rich getting richer. In specific terms of the Kindle market, my intuition is that breaking into the top 100 in one or more subcategories confers some advantage in terms of free visibility. I’m also guessing that breaking into the top 20, the first page that readers see, is likely to confer an even larger advantage, leading to a lot of inertia for a title.

I mean, of course the quality of the cover and blurb are important. But I think the way the market is structured probably perpetuates success by disproportionately rewarding the successful. I’m guessing this author was finally able to punch through into the very top of the rankings, and that’s the primary factor in what made his book stick. Of course, I could be totally wrong. But I’m also guessing there are tons of high-quality books, with high-quality covers and blurbs, that only drift up to a certain ranking before plunging into the abyss.

Anyway, I was also a little stuck in the plotting on my giveaway novella, and I figured out how to plot the last half of the story. So yesterday was kind of a win-win. I’m going to try to knock out some more words on it today. Hope you all are having a swell weekend.

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Go ARC Team, Go!

Dragon Blue is slipping back down the rankings, which was to be expected. It peaked around 8K overall in the Kindle store, barely poking into one top 100 subcategory before quickly falling out. But I’m running another promo today, so maybe we’ll see a nice surge.

I really want to give a shout out to my ARC readers. I tried to thank them each personally for the reviews (if I missed anyone, sorry!). I ended up with exactly 50 readers. Of those, 23 have left reviews, which is a nearly 50% conversion rate. That’s pretty awesome. I think it’s more reasonable to expect something like 25% of your team to actually leave reviews. With the Exclusive ARC service and organic reviews, there are now 36 total on Amazon. But there are a few readers that came in right before the book was published, so we might get over 40.

My approach seemed to work reasonably well this go-round, so I’ll do the same thing for the next release. Hopefully I can double both the number of people on my team and the number of reviews. And for my readers I really want to maintain a high standard and improve if I can. One comment on Amazon struck a chord with me. The review said the central romance was too fast. That one day Miranda and Corban didn’t like each other at all, then BAM, they were in love. That’s a fair criticism, something to think about going forward. I had in my mind that I wanted their wedding night to be interrupted by the men who took his father reappearing in Xandakar. So I kind of hustled their feelings for each other along a little too fast. For future books, I’ll try to do a better job of showing the relationships evolve.

I’m still working on Switch and Bait. It’s a lot of fun. I hope my newsletter subscribers are going to like it. Meanwhile, I’m sketching out the next dragon book. I’m pretty sure it’s going to involve a lost son of Karth Wildfire, who everyone believed was dead, returning to the clan. I’d also like the main romantic relationship to be between this new character and another kind of shifter, maybe a deer or rabbit, not a prey animal. Forbidden love is almost always a good engine to drive a story, and in the world of Xandakar, dragons are not supposed to fall in love with other non-dragons. The subplot will involve the machinations of Marko and Nevra, introduced in the Epilogue of Dragon Blue. So the general shape of the story is still coming together.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend!

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Novella in Progress

I mentioned in earlier posts that I’m working on a new novella as an exclusive giveaway treat for my newsletter subscribers. It’s called Switch and Bait, and it’s about a team of shifters who take on missions for other magical folks when normal humans aren’t cut out for the job. It’s set in present day, in our world, and there are 3 males and 2 females. They are all different shifter types: wolf, bear, fox, otter, and hare. The main character is Sidney, the hare and also the computer/tech expert for the team. She has a crush on the wolf leader, Cole, but he barely seems to know she exists, and she’s too shy to say anything. She feels marginalized by the other team members as well, and is thinking about leaving the group and skipping town.

So when a doppleganger with the ability to look like any other person offers to switch places with Sidney, she jumps at the chance. The only problem is, her new life is about to get very dangerous, very fast. To survive, she’ll need the help of her team, and that won’t be easy when they’re convinced she’s not even gone. To make things worse, the doppleganger is doing what Sidney never had the courage to do. She’s seducing Cole.

Here’s the cover:

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I’m pretty happy with the way the cover turned out. But if anyone has any feedback (positive or negative), please let me know!

Quick update on Dragon Blue: We’re up to 33 reviews on Amazon, maintaining a 4.6-star avg, which is great. Sales are dropping, but page reads are going way up, which is interesting. Yesterday the book had nearly 2000 page reads. I’ve got another promo targeted specifically at shifter readers set up for tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes. I may run another promo or two. Not sure yet. I was feeling a little discouraged that the book didn’t take off on launch, but I got some feedback from some vets that said it’s way too early to tell. I think I’m actually off to a reasonable start. I’d obviously like to make more money month over month, but if I’m just focusing on putting out a steady stream of high-quality words, hopefully the success will come.