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Wrapping Up January

Just a few updates…

January is going to earn me more than any previous month, but it’s still not a lot. But as long as I’m making incrementally more money every month, I think I’ll get there. It may just take a while. That said, I’ve got the BookBub lined up for Valentine’s Day. I’m really hoping that’s going to be a game-changer, but I don’t want to get my hopes up too much.

Work is proceeding on A Bear Comes to Town. I like my characters and the basic set-up, but a lot of the plot details are still kind of murky. My brain hasn’t let me down so far, so I’m confident I’ll be able to find a way through to the end. I do know how it’s going to end, so that’s good.

The Time-Traveling Outlaw just rotated out of Kindle Unlimited, so I’m in the process of pushing it out wide to all available retailers. It’s already on B&N and Kobo, but iTunes and all the others take a little more time. I know it’s got it’s flaws, but TTO will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first full-length romance novel. I was really proud of the way I plotted that one. Some of the other elements are maybe really rough, but like I’ve said before, I feel like plotting is my strong suit. I feel like TTO has a really solid story at its core, and finishing it was a huge boost of confidence.

Okay, off to write about bears!

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I Got a Bookbub!

There was an email waiting for me this morning in my inbox. You’ve been selected for a BookBub feature deal!

So I don’t want to get my hopes up too high, but this was part of my strategy all along. It was one of the main reasons I went wide. BookBub is the king of the hill when it comes to promos. I want to remain cautiously optimistic because I’ve heard grumblings about them not being as effective as they have been in years past. But at this point I’ll take whatever I can to infuse a jolt of adrenaline into my early career. The deal is for Dragon Blue, which is now permafree. I was thinking about waiting until the last book in the series was out, but since that’s not going to be for at least a couple of months, I went for it. You can reapply every 90 days on a given title anyway.

They’re estimating in the range of 23,000 downloads based on the mailing list. I’m pretty sure any author would be thrilled with having their book in front of that many eyeballs. Not everyone who downloads it is going to read it, or buy through the entire series. But hopefully enough will to make my money back and more. The other interesting thing about the promo is that it’s slated for February 14th. Valentine’s Day. My first instinct was that that was a good thing. But holidays are weird. I don’t know if there will be a lot of readers who won’t want to buy a romance on Valentine’s Day because they’re busy. Or if they don’t have someone, maybe they’ll be too depressed to want to read. I honestly don’t know what to expect. I’m going to hope that it’s a great day to have a promo for a romance book, but we’ll see.

I have a promo with Freebooksy coming up this Thursday, and hopefully those two promos somewhat back-to-back will vault Dragon Blue up even higher in the rankings and make it stick there for a good, long time. In the meantime, I’m still just trucking along on my bear shifter book.

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Updates to the Website

I’ve added a dedicated page for my books. You should be able to see the link in the menu at the top of the page. I was relying on the side panel to display new books, but I don’t think it shows up very well on mobile devices. Besides, having a dedicated page for my books seems like a no-brainer. I also made specific individual landing pages for each of my books, so that I could link to them in the backmatter of each title. Since I’ve gone wide, retailers don’t like you linking to other vendors. So instead I updated all my titles today with links to the dedicated page of the next book in the series. So now, at the end of Dragon Red, there’s a link to my website for the page for Dragon Green, and that page has links to all the retailers where the book is available. We’ll see if that helps with sell-through.

Dragon Black, Dragon White is doing about the same as the previous titles. I think it has actually earned more money than books 2 and 3 (though not by much), just by virtue of launching at $2.99. But it’s sold fewer copies. I honestly don’t know what strategy I’ll use for the final book. More readers seems better, even if I’m not making as much money up front. And since it’s not a big difference, I may just release Dragon Gold at 99 cents. But that’s a ways off. After making all these website and link updates, I need to get back at my new bear shifter book.

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Dragon Black, Dragon White Launch

Dragon Black, Dragon White: Darkest Day, Brightest Night officially launched yesterday. I decided not to launch at 99 cents this time, starting out with a $2.99 price tag to see how it went. Since I’m not in KU anymore, I figured it would be difficult to try to boost a new title into a really high ranking, even at 99 cents. Besides, the royalties are much higher at $2.99. The plan seems to be working out pretty well so far. I definitely made more on the first day of DBDW than I did on Dragon Green. Whether or not that holds up, we’ll see.

I have the same number of Amazon reviews from my ARC team that I did on day 2 with Dragon Green: 25. That’s fewer than I’d like, especially considering I’ve grown my team to about 200 members. Some of them are all-stars, but a lot of the list seems to have just become unresponsive. Maybe people are overloaded with ARCs right now. I don’t know.

I got my first non-Amazon sales yesterday, though! I sold 2 copies of Dragon Red and 1 of Dragon Green on Barnes and Noble. So that’s something. I still feel good about my decision to go wide, but I’m definitely open to switching gears this year if I feel like sales on other platforms are lackluster. One disappointment so far is the lag time on Smashwords. I’m really interested to see how my books perform on iTunes, and I’m using Smashwords as the publishers. I’m used to only about 48 hours for books to get approved. But I submitted books 2 and 3 on the 15th (5 days ago) and the latest book yesterday, and they’re all still pending. Maybe they’ve got a backlog as well. This is my first January publishing romance, and maybe it’s just a really busy month. But people have downloaded more free copies of Dragon Blue on iTunes than any other non-Amazon platform, so I’m pretty curious to see if the series sells through there at all.

I booked one of the pricier promos to run next Thursday to boost the first book. I really hope all the books are published on all platforms by then.

In other news, I’ve started work on my next project, a bear shifter romance entitled A Bear Comes to Town. It tells the story of Ben Blackpelt, a bear shifter living a nomadic life, always trying to stay one step ahead of a hunter pack that wants him dead. But when he stops at a diner in the small town of Lockdale, Texas, he meets Savannah, a curvy redhead who makes him want to stay in one place for a little while. But when the pack catches up with Ben, he’ll not only have to fight for his own life, but also for the woman he’s starting to fall in love with.

I’m about 10K words in so far and it’s going pretty well. My plan is to publish it mid-to-late February, then finish up the Dragonlords series. After that, if the bear book does reasonably well, I might write a follow-up. I have a rough outline of a trilogy. Or maybe I’ll leave it as a stand-alone and work on something else. We’ll see. That’s it for now. Have a good Friday, ya’ll!

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Trickling Wide

So you don’t just “go wide”. It takes some time. I had to wait for Dragon Red to stop being available in Kindle Unlimited. Once it dropped out (on Sunday), I published it and Dragon Green to Barnes & Noble and Kobo. It took a couple of days for them to be approved, but now they’re both available via those stores. The links for my books on this page have been updated.

I futzed around with iTunes trying to publish through them, and whew, it was not fun. It’s basically worth the 10% cut of an service like Smashwords not to have to deal directly with Apple. So I’ve published books 2 and 3 through Smashwords. They’re still waiting on approval. Then they’ll be pushed out to iTunes and a number of smaller stores. Hopefully that should only take another day or two. It would be nice for them to become available by the time I publish Dragon Black, Dragon White. That’s slated for release this Thursday, January 19th.

I plan to do the same thing with DBDW, publishing direct through B&N and Kobo and using Smashwords for everything else. Once it releases on all the major platforms, then I plan on planning another marketing blitz on the first book. Fingers crossed. If the entire series falls flat on all the non-Amazon stores, I’m going to be a little depressed, but I’ll deal with it.

In the meantime, I’m getting good feedback on DBDW. My ARC readers are great, pointing out little typos here and there and already leaving reviews on Goodreads. It’s already up to 15 reviews as of this morning, which is pretty nice.

I’m going to start a new book today, though I’m still not 100% on what. I may start a couple of new projects this week and just let the muse decide. I keep reading posts in another forum about how people killing it with contemporary romance. And that’s a little strange to me. I had asked for feedback about my progress a while back, and some authors suggested that paranormal romance was too hard to crack into. The whole point of writing to market seemed to be to find a niche that has a high demand but not quite enough supply. One way to do that is to look at the spread of rankings in the top 100 in a subcategory. Currently, the 100th-ranked book in Contemporary Romance is ranked #420 overall in the Kindle store. But the 100th-ranked book in PNR is #1631 overall. So they’re both wildly popular subcategories, but if anything, PNR should be easier to break into. So the advice to write contemporary seems at odds with the concept of writing to market.

Anyway, I’ll figure out what to write this week and keep you all updated.

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Dragon Black, Dragon White ARCs Go Out

I’ve finished the fourth book in the Dragonlords of Xandakar series. Dragon Black, Dragon White: Darkest Day, Brightest Night went out to my ARC team this morning. Whew, that title is a mouthful! But I wanted the fourth book to be about the black and white dragons falling in love, and I think both the title and the story work well. We’ll see how the ARC readers react.

Oh, here’s the cover:

So I’m shooting for a release date of Thursday, January 19th. Monday I plan to publish Dragon Red and Dragon Green wide to iTunes, B&N, and Kobo. The free version of Dragon Blue has gotten thousands of downloads on those platforms, and I’m pretty interested to see what sales (if any) look like on non-Amazon sites. Last month was my best month, even without two books in the series enrolled in KU. I feel like it was a good decision. It certainly sits well with me philosophically. I don’t really like the idea of being exclusive. Competition seems like a good thing. And I also like the idea of my stuff being available to as many readers as possible.

As far as what to work on next…I was pretty sure I was going to work on a bear shifter book next, though I think I’m going to take tomorrow and the weekend to think about it a little more. I know I definitely need a break from Xandakar. I’ve been writing these books non-stop for the past 4-5 months, and while the idea of wrapping up the series is appealing, I really think switching gears will make me more excited to return to this world and finish it up after a little “break”. I mean, I’ll still be writing, but it will be something slightly different.

Other than the bear book, which I’ve got a reasonable outline of already, I kind of want to work on a contemporary romance. I do like BDSM, and there always seems to be an audience for 50 Shades type of material. But one concern I have is alienating my reader base. At this point I’ve done a pretty good job of building up a newsletter based on the types of stuff I’ve written so far. I’m not sure how far out of shifter/paranormal fans of a particular author are willing to go. There are a lot who like a wide variety of books, to be sure. But I think part of being successful is also fulfilling reader expectations. I know when an author I really like writes something I totally wasn’t expecting, it can sometimes be a little off-putting. Anyway, like I said, I’ll think about it over the weekend.

And of course I’ll update the links to all my books when they go live on the other sites. I decided not to do a pre-order for this one, but I’ll definitely announce when it goes live as well. Stay tuned!

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Edit Time

The fourth book in my dragon shifter romance series, Dragon Black, Dragon White: Darkest Day, Brightest Night, is done. Well, the first draft is anyway. Now it’s time for editing. That should take the early part of this week. And then I’ll send it out to my ARC team. I’m thinking of trying a week-long pre-order this time around. I kind of feel like with the later books in the series it makes more sense. Anyway, we’ll see.

The book came out at right around 54K words. Not sure what the final count will be with edits. I usually cut about as much as I add, but I’m not sure this time around. I think I need to add more tension and early dislike between my two leads, and I’m not sure how well I handled that in the first draft. I was going for a classic opposites-attract vibe. He’s from a poor family living in the swamps. She’s spoiled royalty, living a rich, pampered life. Each one thinks the other is arrogant and intolerable. But when the world goes haywire, they’re thrown together and forced to journey across the whole of Xandakar to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Along the way, they start to grudgingly respect each other, then like each other, then of course fall in love. Handling that transition is tricky, and I admit that for me it’s probably the hardest part about writing romance. I’m really going to focus on it in the rewrites and hopefully it will come out all right.

I’m going to put the book on pre-order at the same time I send it out to my ARC team, so I’ll announce that here when it’s ready.

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Down the Home Stretch

I’m nearly finished with the first draft of Dragon Black, Dragon White. I should be done by tomorrow, or Monday at the latest. Then it’s editing time. So I’m looking to send the advance copies out to my team by mid-to-late next week. I’m pleased with the overall story structure, but the particulars are going to need a lot of fine tuning. You never know until you start looking back at the draft. I don’t do that until the whole book is complete. It’s too tempting to start revising and then you can get bogged down tinkering instead of finishing.

So I’m looking at a release date somewhere around the 17th-20th. Dragon Red falls out of KU on the 14th, and I feel like the third week of this month is going to be a key turning point in my plans going forward. The free version of Dragon Blue already has¬†thousands of downloads on iTunes, Kobo, and B&N. If the sell-through of the series is decent, I could be looking at a nice boost in revenue from those other sources. If the sales fall flat on those other platforms, then I’ll have to rethink my whole strategy. I plan on reapplying for a BookBub. If that falls through, I’ll still push on with some other paid promos to boost Dragon Blue‘s visibility around the launch of the 4th book and the release of books 2 and 3 on the other platforms. I’m really hoping for at least a 25-30% increase in revenue through those other channels, but we’ll see.

I’m going to at least write the first chapter of the 5th and final book in the series, entitled Dragon Gold: A Tale Untold. I’ll included it as a bonus at the end of DBDW. But I think I’m going to take a deep breath and think about what to work on next. I don’t want to limp across the finish line with this series. I think writing another novel in a different setting will likely give me the needed space from the series to recharge the creative batteries a little and finish the last book stronger. I’ve been thinking a lot about a trilogy of bear shifter stories set in a small Texas town. I like the worldbuilding that goes along with writing fantasy, but it can sometimes wear you out a little. If you write something set in contemporary America, you don’t have to conjure up every little detail of an imaginary world. That stuff is already there for you. You just have to describe it well. And then you can focus on stuff like the plot, the characters, and their relationships.

I’m not completely decided, though. I’m going to take a couple of days after hitting the publish button on DBDW to see how my publishing strategy is working. And I also plan to do a little more reading and research to see what people are most interested in reading right now. But so far I’m excited for 2017. I think that at least for my own writing career, it’s going to be a good one.