dragon_gold200

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!

dragon_gold200

Committing to a Series

I guess I should have realized that writing a 5-book series was going to be a serious commitment. I’m kind of regretting it right now. If I had it to do all over again, I would have started with a trilogy. Even at the respectably-prolific pace of a novel a month, I was still committing to about six months of work. And that’s fine. I’ve learned a lot and put in the groundwork to build up a solid ARC team and newsletter base.

But I’m feeling a bit of series fatigue right now. I’m almost to the 20K mark in DBDW, and though I’m getting the words down, it’s a bit of a slog. I kind of just want to be done with the series. I hope that doesn’t affect the writing negatively. But I really want to start in on something new. I’m reading a lot more in the shifter romance genre and getting a lot of good ideas about where to go next. One good thing is that I don’t think I’m going to stall out. I still have a strong vision for where the rest of this book and the finale are going to go. So that’s good. But even at six months, it is definitely feels like a long-term relationship!

I’ve considered taking a break from this series to write something else. But there are a couple of reasons that seems like a bad idea. One, I want to give readers the expectation that I’m going to publish on a regular basis, and that I’m not going to delay or abandon a series. I would think for most readers, if they saw an author with an unfinished series start an entirely new one, that might just tick them off a little. The other big reason is that I feel like I would probably lose momentum. I’m pretty entrenched in this world right now, and if I wrote something entirely different, I’d have to immerse myself all over again and that seems bad.

So I think from both a writing and marketing perspective, it’s best to push through and finish the series. I might be able to recharge my batteries a little by taking a break and/or working on something else, but I think I’d lose more than I gained. Hopefully I can still get the first draft done by the end of next week, just before Christmas. Going into the holidays knowing I only have one more book to write will make me feel a lot more confident.

dragon_gold200

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!

sitsswappromoimage_large

 

dragon_gold200

Free Promo Results

So far the free romance cross-promotion I’m involved in is doing well. The Time-Traveling Outlaw is currently ranked #1,234 overall in Free. It has also hit #1 in Women’s Historical Fiction Free and is in the top 10 of both Women’s Fiction>Action & Adventure and Romance>Time Travel. The title got a little over 1200 downloads yesterday, which is a lot more than I expected. It’s already got 125 today. So now way more people are exposed to the title than before. Whether that will translate into anything tangible remains to be seen.

My newsletter sign-ups are about the same. So are my page-reads and sales. It could be that readers are just downloaded a large number of the free books to store on their devices to read later. If so, maybe I’ll see some kind of gradual effect (if any) as time goes on. Or all those people will just forget they have it on their device and never read it. Let’s hope not.

A wider audience always seems like a good thing, so just getting the visibility and exposure is probably worth it. We’ll see.

I updated a post on another forum regarding the ratio of my sales to page reads for my romance novels. I’m afraid it’s far too low. Amazon doesn’t actually tell authors how many people are borrowing their books through Kindle Unlimited, just how many pages are read each day. So I have no idea how many people are just reading a few pages and giving up. That would be useful information. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on both my first novels, but the low page-read count has me worried that I’m either not meeting reader expectations and/or that I’m not writing compelling fiction that makes readers want to turn the next page. Or maybe everything’s fine and the number of borrows is just low for whatever reason. If anyone has any input, do let me know.

All right, back to work. 🙂

dragon_gold200

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!

dragon_gold200

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:

switch_and_bait1000

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.

dragon_gold200

Dragon Blue: Launch Day Recap

Dragon Blue: A Lie That’s True went live exclusively on Amazon yesterday. Of course every author hopes that when they hit the publish button the copies will just fly off the virtual shelf, and before long they’ll be basking on a beach in the Bahamas, sipping something fruity and alcoholic. Alas, that’s the exception, not the rule.

16620-illustration-of-a-rocket-pv
We definitely got off the ground, though we didn’t quite blast into outer space. Here are some numbers:

Dragon Blue has sold 30 copies so far. There were 7 pre-orders, so 23 sales the first day. That’s not horrible, but since I’m pricing at 99 cents, we’re still not sipping those pina coladas just yet. There have also already been about 1300 page reads through KU, which is also not bad. That’s about 9 full read-throughs, give or take.

The book is currently sitting at 8,870 overall in the Amazon Paid Kindle Store. This is the first time I’ve broken 4 digits. Outlaw got as high as 15K, then started dropping. Dragon Blue currently has the following rankings in these categories:

#100 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > Fantasy
#143 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Paranormal > Demons & Devils
#151 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > Action & Adventure

Last night it poked up to #90 in Women’s Fiction > Fantasy, and I expect it to bob in and out of the top 100 in that category, based on what I saw with Outlaw. That Demons & Devils subcategory is a little weird. I put a lot of fantasy related keywords into the listing to make sure I was hitting all the fantasy subcategories. Technically there is mention of a demon in the book, and he’s going to be a central villain in later installments. But I don’t know if I would get any blowback from miscategorization on that one. For now I’ll leave it alone.

On Amazon, the book currently has 26 reviews, with a 4.6 average. Not bad. Fifty would be great, but we’re probably not going to get there. But I think ending up between 30 and 40 by the end of the week is reasonable. On Goodreads, we’ve got 14 ratings with a 4.71 average. But several of my ARC team have let me know they’re still reading, so more reviews should trickle in. I’ve worked my butt off putting together a team of nearly 50 reviewers, and it’s paying off in terms of reviews. But I’m competing with titles that sometimes have hundreds of reviews. I’m going to keep beating the bushes on my next book to keep building my team. My target is 300 ARC readers, which might be a nightmare to moderate, but I think it’s probably a vital key to success. I sent out thank you messages to everyone that left a review. If I’m able to consolidate everyone on a list, that’ll be a lot easier to manage. I’ll start organizing and curating more with the next release.

Today we’ve got 1 sale of Dragon Blue, but already 642 page reads, so the KU people are finding it and reading it. I tried to make it a page-turner. Some of the review feedback says that it starts a little slow but builds up steam. With Dragon Red, I’ll take that feedback to heart and try to hook readers in a lot sooner.

I’m trying to look at the long-term here. Of course I would have liked either of my first two books to take off, but again, that’s the exception. Instead I’m building up a solid ARC team and fan base. I’ll release the next book in the series at 99 cents, but then move it up to either 2.99 or 3.99, so conversions for people wanting to keep reading in the series should actually yield some reasonable income. That’s the hope anyway.

Meanwhile, I’m still plugging away at the giveaway novella. It’s about halfway done. I’ll probably share the cover design tomorrow on that. Anyway, if you were part of my ARC team and/or you bought/borrowed the book the last couple of days, thank you!

dragon_gold200

Launch Day!

dragon_blue1000

Dragon Blue is finally live! You can get it for 99 cents in the Amazon store here (free if you belong to Kindle Unlimited).

Launch day is going pretty well so far. As of this writing, I’ve got 10 sales, 6 reviews (4.7 avg) on Amazon, and 4 reviews (4.75 avg) on Goodreads. The ranking is climbing. It’s around 30K in the store overall, but approaching the top 100 in several subcategories. The one the book is ranked highest in is Women’s Fiction>Fantasy, which is fine. My primary category is Romance>Werewolves & Shifters, but that’s a highly competitive category and probably hard to crack.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who has stopped by since I started this blog. I hope it hasn’t all come across as shameless self-promotion, but at least on launch day I kind of have to peddle my wares. I’ll update either later today or tomorrow with new (and hopefully high) numbers.

dragon_gold200

Early Review

Dragon Blue launches tomorrow, but I’ve already gotten some early feedback, and it’s been very promising. Of course, Outlaw got good early feedback and strong reviews, but didn’t perform all that well in the market. I’m still guessing that’s a problem with demand and not quality.

Anyway, Ingrid Stephanie Jordan over at her Tumblr blog posted this very nice early review. Here’s a snippet:

Woooooo well I’m blown out of the water.
This book is Phenomenal from beginning to the end, I’m trying to think of a better word, but let me tell you this Lady, Ms. Macy ROCKS !!!!

I think she liked it. I’m hoping a lot of other readers will as well. We’ll see how launch day goes tomorrow.

dragon_gold200

Back in the Saddle

So I had a nice weekend away in Dallas. Went to the relatively new Natural History Museum. It was nice. Not enough dinosaurs for my taste, but a few.

0d0a6578-f021-4568-a69f-35985f537874

I was a little worried because the first exhibit wasn’t very interactive or interesting, but they got better as we went along.

I also got to eat Korean food, which is one of the few cuisines in short supply around Acadiana, and that was awesome as well. We also went to Torchy’s Tacos, which is usually amazing. But this time I was very underwhelmed. All I can say is I think it’s best to stick to flour tortillas there. The corn ones were not very good.

Anyway, I’m back home and still planning what to work on next. I do feel like it’s probably worthwhile to try to knock out a nice 20K novella as a giveaway incentive for the mailing list, something I can just perpetually offer. Though I would also like to get started on the next book in the Xandakar series. Initial feedback is trickling in from some of my advance reviewers, and so far everyone loves it, which is a relief. I wonder if, no matter how much you write or how successful you are, you always worry whether they’re going to like the next thing you put out. At least this time it seems like they do. So I think I just need to stick with a similar approach to the next four books.

Dragon Blue ended with an introduction of a new character who will play a lead role in the next book. No matter what I start working on next, I’m going to at least start doing some preliminary outlining of Dragon Red this week.