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Dragon Blue Now on iTunes and Kobo…For Free!

In preparation for the launch of Dragon Green, I decided to go wide with Dragon Blue and attempt to make it permafree. This week I tried to set up accounts on several vendor sites, planning on using Smashwords to distribute to those I didn’t want to set up manually. But in the end I just let Smashwords distribute to all the vendors. Royalties don’t matter for a free title, so this is fine. Kobo was the first listing. Then today I was pleasantly surprised to find that Dragon Blue had been listed on iTunes. So I’ve gone ahead and applied for price matching through Amazon. Hopefully it will be listed free there soon as well. That would only leave Barnes & Noble. Once it’s listed on all those sites for free, I’ll start running promos. I’ve added links on the sidebar to the new listings.

Dragon Green is going to go live later tonight. I’ll send out a reminder to my ARC team tomorrow morning. I’m going to launch at 99 cents with minimal promotion, then bump it up to $2.99 in about a week. I’m still not sure whether to price each book in the rest of the series at $2.99, $3.99, or even higher. For now I’m going to stick with the lower price point and see how things go.

Now I just need to write the next book.

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Taking the Plunge: Going Wide

One of the biggest ongoing debates in indie publishing is whether or not to “go wide” (publish through as many retailers as possible) or stick with only Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. I’m releasing Dragon Green this week (Thursday, Dec. 1st), and I’ve decided to take the plunge and go wide. Lots of blog posts and forum topics do a good job of running down the pros and cons, but for me it boils down to three main reasons:

  1. Poor KU Results. I’m just not getting a lot of page reads. I hear about other authors getting tons of page reads, but it’s just not happening for me. If it were, it would incentivize me to stay in the program. It could very well be an issue with my books. But for whatever reason, they’re not performing well in KU, so I think it’s worth seeing if they do better across many channels with a different model.
  2. BookBub. The holy grail of promotions. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I see a lot of authors claiming that BookBub prefers authors that go wide. I don’t expect to get a promotion with any individual books in the series, though I would love to. Basically I want to position myself to be in the best possible spot to get a BB promo for the entire series as a boxed set.
  3. Permafree. I’ve also heard that the first-book permafree model doesn’t work quite as well anymore. But since I’m not doing well in KU anyway, I figure I can probably only go up from here. And you can’t set the first book in your series as permanently free unless you go wide.

Basically, though, with the release of my fourth book overall and the third in my series, I want to try it out. Going wide is a fair amount of work. But I also want to do it because I really like the idea of exposing my books to as wide an audience as possible and diversifying future income. If I’m able to build up a wider audience, great. If not, I can always choose to enroll future books/series in KU. The scheduling is a little weird, though. Dragon Blue just rolled out of KU, and I’ve spent today setting it up through different vendors. Dragon Red doesn’t unenroll from KU until January, though. So it’s not really going to be a good lead-in for the other books in the series, at least until then. But I will be able to assess demand for the free book for the next two months. Then I can see about trying to drive sales with promos for Dragon Blue.

I don’t know how well it’s going to work, but I’m hopeful. I’ll update my store links once it’s live in other places.

In other news, I passed 1,000 subscribers on my mailing list. The bulk of those have been through Instafreebie and cross-promos. I’m pretty interested to see how well it performs on release day. I’m also going to try resending a week later to subscribers who didn’t open the first email. That’s a strategy I haven’t been using that I probably should.

And on the writing side, I’m in the process of outlining Dragon Black, Dragon White: Darkest Day, Brightest Night. No traveling back and forth from Earth this time. I know who my hero and heroine are going to be, but right now I only have the vaguest idea of how the story is going to play out. This one’s going to take place in a time of war and chaos, though, all of which will be resolved in the last book. Other than that, you’ll find out when I do.

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Post-Thanksgiving Post

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and didn’t eat too much or get trampled by shoppers the next day. I actually ate until I was comfortably full, then stopped. It didn’t really feel like Thanksgiving. I should have had one more serving of mashed potatoes just to get that ripe-watermelon-about-to-burst feeling.

Anyway, like I said in my last post, I sent out ARCs just before I left for the holidays. I feel like I rushed a little too much. I should have spent some more time on editing. I hope the ARC readers don’t punish me too hard on that. I’ve got 3 reviews so far on Goodreads (2 four-stars and 1 five-star). There is some negative feedback about the story taking some time to get rolling and the characters not being compelling enough. Those are definitely aspects of my novels that I’m aware can be improved. Something to work on as I finish out the series.

Dragon Blue is free for the next couple of days in case anyone out there hasn’t picked it up yet. Then it’s rolling out of Kindle Unlimited, and I’m going to try taking it wide and setting it to perma-free. I’m just not getting much in the way of page reads, so I think going wide is a pretty low-risk strategy. So I’m going work on that the next couple of days, then get to work on outlining the next book.

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Dragon Green ARCs Going Out

I finished edits on Dragon Green and sent out advance copies to my team today. I’d like to think every author is filled with self-doubt upon finishing a book. I certainly am.

I’m certainly happy to have it done (or mostly done). I will likely do more revisions before launch. I plan on launching on December 1st. I’m not going to hit the promos very hard this time. I’ll just do a couple that I know were effective last time around. I really want to start relying on my newsletter as my main source of early sales/reads.

Anyway, I’m going to spend a couple of days with my family, so I’ll be out of the loop until at least Friday. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Take care and be safe!

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Dragon Green is Done

The first draft, at least. I typed out the last words of the epilogue yesterday afternoon. Now comes editing. I’m going to get some edits done this weekend and hopefully finish them up Monday so I can get the book out to my ARC time before Thanksgiving (and hopefully they won’t be too busy with holiday stuff to give it a read). So right now I’m looking at a release date of Nov. 28th if all goes as planned.

I’m happy with the way the book has turned out, though it may need more revisions than I think. I definitely need to flesh out Brynn a bit more. I also need to check for consistencies. I’ve never written a series before, and I’m finding that I have to go back and look at the previous books to make sure I don’t have continuity errors. But I feel like the framework of the book is very solid. I feel like plotting is one of my stronger suits. I also feel confident writing action and dialogue. But I think characterization is one of my weaker points. I try to bring out the characters not only through their actions, but also through meaningful internal and external dialogue, but I feel like I sometimes fall short. That’s something I’m trying to improve upon with every work.

With Dragon Green, there’s a brand new couple, as with each book. The first book, Dragon Blue, involved a woman from Earth and a Xandakarian dragonlord, but in the second book, I focused on two different shifters both from the same world. With Dragon Green, I’m returning to having an Earth woman and a Xandakarian dragonlord. But while Miranda was a relatively uneducated young woman who didn’t really know what she wanted to do with her life, Brynn is a highly-educated, driven archaeologist. The one thing they do have in common is that they’re both strong, smart characters. I like writing strong female protagonists rather than damsels in distress. I hope it doesn’t come across as too repetitive, but in each book so far, the hero and heroine typically end up saving each other in some way. I like that balance, and I think it’s a good way to express a couple’s feelings for each other through action.

For the launch, I’m not going to focus as much on paid promos. I’ve done a lot of work since the launch of Dragon Red, concentrating on building up my ARC team and my newsletter. I have over 150 ARC readers now, while I had about 50 for Dragon Red. Dragon Blue is sitting at 57 reviews on Amazon, while Dragon Red has 40. Some of that has to do with the fact that it’s the second in the series, but I really didn’t do much to grow my review team for Dragon Red, and that’s also a big factor.

I’ve also managed to grow my newsletter to over 850 subscribers. I only had 16 people on my list in September, and about 400 last month for the launch of Dragon Red. I’ve managed to grow it with two main strategies: giving away a novella on Instafreebie with automatic newsletter sign-up and getting involved in cross-promotions. I was actually a little too aggressive with this last strategy, and I’m dialing it back. I had several unsubscribes with the last cross-promotion. Most of those didn’t give a reason, but several unsubscribers listed spam as a factor. I’m also a little leery about the effectiveness of the leads gained from cross-promos. My open and click rates are still respectable, and I expect them to be higher for the actual release newsletter for Dragon Green. But I think the leads from cross-promos are generally not super-effective. I’ll be interested to see how it goes for release.

I’m going to set Dragon Blue to free for the first few days of the Dragon Green release. So that will be Nov. 28th-30th, most likely I’m hoping readers will pick up the first book for free and go ahead and buy the other two books as well, but we’ll see. A lot of forums/blogs say that the 3rd book in the series is the charm. Some other say sales don’t really solidify until you finish a series. I guess I’ll find out by the end of the month.

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Finishing up

Just trying to keep my head down and finish off the last 5-10% of my latest novel. We’re almost there!
 
I’m writing the culmination of the final climax (no, not that kind!), a huge undersea battle. Once that’s done, our H and h are finally going to be together. Then we’ll have a teasy little epilogue leading into the events of the next book, and we’re done. Hopefully I can get an edited draft out to my advance readers early next week and launch the week after that.
I’m not sure how this one is going to feel when I do my first editing pass. I was a lot more confident in the story when I started writing it than I was with Dragon Red, but that may not always translate into a better story. I got a review on Dragon Blue the other day that was not glowing, but was probably good feedback. The reader wanted the characters to be more fleshed out and for the romance to be better developed. That is definitely something I can work on. I like fast-paced stories that tick along and keep me reading, so I tend to write that way. Sometimes I blow right past quiet moments that would really bring out the characters and their thoughts and feelings in a way that would make the story that much better. All I can say is, if you do leave a rating for one of my books, please also try to leave some feedback as well. Writing is a lifelong journey, and I’m constantly learning and trying to improve my craft. Hearing what readers did and didn’t like is incredibly valuable. All I can do is try my best to make each story better than the one before.
I hope I did that for this next one.
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Keep On Keeping On

I had hoped to finish Dragon Green this week, but the story is expanding out a little longer than I expected. That’s a good thing. I feel like the first two books in the series were a little short, coming in right at 50K words each. It looks like Dragon Green is going to be about 60K, maybe more. I really don’t quite know yet. I’m firmly in the middle of Act 2, and there’s still a lot of story to resolve. Then I’ve got to have a short Act 3 with the aftermath of everything. So I’m not really sure how many more words I’m going to need.

I will almost certainly be finished with the first draft by next week, though. Then I can spend a few days editing before sending it out to my ARC team. In the meantime, that team has been growing nicely. I feel like I didn’t push hard enough to grow my team for Dragon Red, and I’m trying to make up for it. I’ve heard differing opinions about the importance of reviews and the extent to which they might influence Amazon’s algorithms. But they’re definitely important for validating the quality of a work, and most successful authors have a lot of reviews.

Anyway, I’m also participating in another giveaway. I don’t want my audience to get giveaway/promo fatigue, so I’m probably going to lay off of them at least until next year. But this one is pretty cool, so I hope it generates some buzz. Here’s the banner, which you can click on to head to the giveaway page. Check it out!

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Cover Reveal and ARC Invitation

I was going to shift my attention to my Facebook page and just kind of give up on this blog, but then the traffic started to spike. So I’m assuming there are people out there reading this. Hi. 🙂

Anyway, on FB I revealed the cover to my latest book in the series. It still needs some tweaks, but here it is!

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Also, I want to extend an open invitation to anyone interested in joining my advance reader (ARC) team. You get to read stuff before anybody else (and for free!), though it might be a little rough around the edges. If you’re interested, sign up here:

http://eepurl.com/ckf9Iv

I’m about 40K into Dragon Green, so I’m hoping to finish it up next week. Stay tuned for updates!