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Dragon Green Launch!

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Dragon Green: A Vision Unseen launched on Amazon today. The launch price is 99 cents, but then it will go up to the normal price of $2.99 next week.

I’m cautiously optimistic about this one. A lot of authors say the third in the series is when you start to get traction. I’m also second-guessing myself a little about going wide, but I’m pretty sure it was the right choice given where I’m at. Amazon price-matched Dragon Blue for free. Time to start pounding on that with free promos.

Also time to churn out the next book. Outlining isn’t going so great. I’ve got the opening and the ending of the story clearly in mind. I know the two lead characters and their path to come together and fall in love. It’s all that messy plotting in the middle that I’m mostly unsure about. I think this one is going to be like Dragon Red, mostly written by the seat of my pants. But I think it will end up working out okay.

I’ll update here about how the launch goes over the weekend.

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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 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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Launch Week Recap

So the first week after releasing Dragon Red didn’t go spectacularly. I sold about 100 copies, but got virtually no page reads through KU. So far that doesn’t cover what I spent on promos, though I still have a couple waiting to fire. I’m finding the dynamics of releasing a series a little strange. Dragon Blue got a bump, with a modest amount of sales and actually a good number of page reads. That tells me that readers saw the release of Dragon Red and were interested enough to want to go back to the first book and check it out.

That’s good, if those that read Dragon Blue continue on with the series. I’m going to raise the price of Dragon Red to either $2.99 or $3.99 later this week. I don’t see a way for an author to make any substantial income from books perpetually priced at 99 cents. I think the only way to do it is for series to sell through at a higher price point. I’m also still struggling with whether to let my KU enrollment lapse and take the series wide starting with the next book. That will allow me to make the first book permafree and see how that strategy works. It’s apparently a very effective strategy, though one that some authors are saying doesn’t work as well with the advent of KU. But my page reads through KU are so lackluster that I think it may be worth my while.

I’m starting to realize what a rough haul this is going to be. I had visions of rapid fans swooping in to scoop up my latest book and buoy me to at least more than pocket change. I didn’t expect to get rich overnight, but I did expect a steady improvement book-over-book. So far the progress has kind of been flat. I continue to hope that the third book in the series will cause a spike that will carry me forward, but I’ve learned at this point to keep my expectations low.

As of this writing, Dragon Red has 27 reviews on Amazon. I was hoping to launch with a lot more. The good news is that the average rating is 5.0. I was worried that my advance readers wouldn’t like this book quite as much as the last one, since I have more POV characters and the story is a little less linear and much more busy. One reader did comment to that effect, but most readers really seemed to like the book. I think even my tempered definition of success will just have to involve plugging away at each book while trying to build my ARC team and a fan base.

My mailing list is over 400 people now, though the response on launch day was a little underwhelming. I also passed the benchmark of my books being added to over 100 to-read shelves on Goodreads. I don’t know the conversion rate for people who mark a book to read vs. how many actually read it, but it’s nice to see the numbers grow nevertheless.

I feel like I’m on the right trajectory, even if the angle is a lot lower than what I had anticipated. I’m about 40% into writing Dragon Green and it’s going well, so that’s good. I will be going out of town for about five days, though. That’s going to put a crimp on my productivity temporarily. I’ll try to get some writing done on the road, but I don’t think much is going to happen. Also, if I don’t update this blog while I’m gone, you’ll know why. In the meantime, I’m going to try to squeeze out a couple thousand more words before I leave.

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Updating Dragon Blue Cover

I decided to update the cover art for Dragon Blue to have a more consistent look with the rest of the series. Here’s the old cover side-by-side with the new one, along with Dragon Red:

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I think the old cover was fine, but I wanted to move forward with a consistent, branded look for the series, and I think this does the job pretty well. If anybody has any feedback on the covers, old or new, let me know.

Sales continue to be a little disappointing on Dragon Red. Starting the second day of launch, I used two of my free promo days for Dragon Blue to set it to free. I thought that would be a good idea, giving readers the opportunity to pick up the first book in the series free, lowering the risk of picking up the second book in the series. But it doesn’t seem to have helped, at least in the near term. Dragon Blue is back to 99 cents today, so we’ll see what happens.

Meanwhile, I’m about 30% of the way into Dragon Green. It’s going well, but this launch week hasn’t been super motivating so far. A lot of authors say the third book in the series is the charm. Let’s hope so. My plan was to finish the series by the end of the year, or early next year, then write a stand-alone contemporary novel I’ve been kicking around. Then to start a new series. I’m pretty sure I want to do a trilogy next. It’s less investment if things go wrong. I really thought dragon shifters were going to be a nice fit for both the market and what I wanted to write, but now I’m not sure. I’ll probably buckle down and do more market research after this series is done.

 

 

 

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Launch Week Update

So I launched Dragon Red on Monday. The first day was fine. I actually got almost as many sales of Dragon Blue as Dragon Red. That kind of makes sense. People see the new book, then go to buy the first book in the series. So that’s cool. Still, the numbers were not very high. They were even lower on the second day, despite a couple of small promos. We’ll see how today goes.

I think the listing looks solid. My ARC team has done a bang-up job so far, posting 20 nice reviews. More will trickle in, I’m sure, but this is a great start. I worked a lot on the blurb, but now I’m second-guessing myself, wondering if it’s a bit too long. You can drive yourself crazy worrying about every little decision you make.

I had one of my advance readers contact me via email with some advice regarding how to leverage Goodreads. Lots of good stuff in there. Virtually every source of advice I’ve listened to has said that the mailing list is the most important tool you have. I sent out a newsletter the day of launch to both my “warm” list (mostly organic subscribers) and my “cool” list (emails gathered from a recent giveaway). Despite having over 400 subscribers between the two lists, the sales results were still underwhelming.

So I’m taking my reader’s advice to heart. I think picking a platform to try to engage readers directly is the way to go. I’m not sure if Goodreads is the best for that. A lot of authors leverage Facebook. So far I’ve focused on this blog, which may or may not be a good idea. A lot of time I feel like I’m just jettisoning message capsules into a void. I think a social platform is probably a better idea, though I really don’t want to be trying to build networks in multiple places. I feel like I’d just spread myself thin. So I’m going to focus on GR for now, try to become more active there, and see what happens. In the meantime, I’ll keep blogging here two or three times a week.

I’ll post another update on Dragon Red in another few days.

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Dragon Red Launch Day!

It’s always a little nerve-wracking launching a new book. This will be my third full-length romance, and I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of things. But you never know.

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Dragon Red: A Fire Unfed is available here on Amazon. My ARC reviewers have already left 15 reviews on Goodreads for the book here. They’re overwhelmingly positive, so that’s good. Amazon has made some changes to the review system in light of worries about incentivized reviews. They’ve increased the amount a customer has to have spent on Amazon ($50 lifetime) in order to leave a review. That’s fine. It seems like a reasonable measure against fake accounts and scammers. But they seem to have changed the way they display reviews as well, only showing verified purchase reviews by default. That may have changed or may still be in place. Amazon changes things quickly. I just hope a lot of my early reviews aren’t obscured.

I just sent out my newsletter and reminded my ARC team the book is live. Between sign-ups from Instafreebie and the crossover promo I did recently, I have about 400 subscribers. That’s up from the 14 I had when I launched Dragon Blue. I would like to think that’ll make a difference. We’ll see.

Thanks to everyone out there who has read any of my stuff. Have a great day!

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Writing Dragon Green

Having done just about everything I could in preparation for the launch of Dragon Red on Monday, I started writing the third book in the series, Dragon Green: A Vision Unseen. It’s coming along pretty nicely. I already have the first two chapters written. I find that I enjoy writing the stronger female characters more. Thalia was a nice character, a rabbit shifter who learns to take charge, but she was ultimately very shy and not worldly. In Dragon Green, the heroine is Dr. Brynn Mulbrook, an archaeologist from our world. She’s very tough and driven, and I’m finding writing her a lot easier.

In the meantime, Dragon Red already has 12 ratings on Goodreads, all 5 stars. So that’s cool. I was reading launch stories in other forums, though, and one author said they put their book up on Goodreads prior to launch and within a few days over 100 people had shelved it as to-read. My books still aren’t getting anywhere near that kind of traction. I’m wondering how that author’s book was getting so much visibility prior to launch. So far only my ARC team is reading and shelving the book. I don’t know if other readers on GR are seeing the book in their lists and just thinking they’re not interested.

Anyway, I’m keeping my expectations properly tempered for Monday’s release. I just want to do better book-over-book with each release, and I think that’s reasonable.