Monday, February 5, 2024

Caitlin's Escape Route is live and selling

That is to say, I have sold a few copies. A first novel is very much a chicken and egg situation I believe. If you have no previous novels, you are an unknown, few are interested in buying. If you have no reviews, no one wants to be the first. Very understandable but without reviews, sales are very unlikely and without sales reviews are never going to be forthcoming.

I spent a few weeks before the release, and all of the last week since then, studying up on the various marketing avenues. Some, of course, are just too expensive to rush into so soon. I have set up a few ads on Amazon, but so far, these are not doing great. I need to revisit them and keep tweaking till I get the hang of it.

Here's the thing. Your (in this case, my) ads only show if you have selected the correct key words, and someone uses these keywords to search for a book, and you have bid high enough that you beat all the other thousands of writers attempting to get their book planted in the face of a potential buyer. If you get to that point, and your book appears at the top of a search result, then the potential buyer has to click on it. If they do click on it, you get charged whatever your bid wasnow the important step, they have to buy the book, then read it, hopefully like it and then write a review. That's a lot to ask of someone who just wants to find something to read that they will enjoy.

However, I am not going to spend much time worrying about it. I have also read that when there is more than one book in a series available, people are more likely to purchase. I know I love to read a series. One of my favorite authors is David Baldacci. He has a number if great series, and it is so nice to return to characters you already know and like. So, I am busy getting number two in the series ready to publish. It is written, I have received and incorporated feedback from my main alpha reader, my very talented daughter in law, a gifted writer. Now I am working on getting beta readers lined up to help me polish Sally's Story.

If you have read Caitlin's Escape Route, or when you get around to reading it, you will meet Sally, and you can follow her through the second novel. My hope is to have Sally's Story ready to publish by early September. That is dependant on getting timely feedback from beta readers.

The problem with beta readers is that you are asking them to do a whole lot in return for very little. They have to read your less than perfect manuscript, making notes of all the places where they feel something is not quite right, either moving too fast, or too slow, or holes in the story, or characters who don't seem real enough, dialogue that doesn't sound realistic. I could go on. But, in return for that, what do they get? a free read they might not even like, and a thank you. Actually I also offer them a signed copy of the book after it has been published, but that is hardly a huge payment, especially as they have already read the book.

The online writers community that I am a member of, are starting up a critique partner group and I am hopeful that will be in action in time for Sally's Story, if not I am already working on Brenda's Story, number three in the series.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

I pressed the button

The button in question is the Publish button, two in fact. One to publish the paperback and one to publish the Kindle version. I have to tell you, that was one of the hardest things I have done in a while. 

My first novel is now 'IN REVIEW' as you can see from this image. I could have spent the next year editing, revising and rereading but at some point you have to say "enough is enough" and let it go out into the world to fend for itself.

I have a wait of up to three days before I know if the book is on the market or back on my desk for further editing. That is, if the review turns up some formatting issue that Amazon objects to, it will bounce it back to me to fix. While I am waiting I am learning all I can about Amazon Ads. That is not as easy as it sounds, but also a lot more interesting that it sounds.

The problem with self-publishing is that you also have to do self-marketing, not so easy. As a first step, I need you all to follow me on my author page on Amazon. Apart from making me feel good, it will mean that as my books are released for sale, you will hear about it. I promise I will not spam you, but I need to get some hype going.

The sum total of the marketing I did for Peeling the Onion was to leave a copy sitting on my desk at work. Even then, if anyone showed an interest in it, I let them borrow that copy, so no sale there. That was not the only reason I never considered marketing as a career, but definitely a good one. I suck at it.

Once Caitlin's Escape Route is approved and out there, I hope that at least some of you will purchase it, and if you do, and if you manage to read it, please return to Amazon and leave a review. I don't mind if it is an honest one, in fact I would prefer if it were, any review is better than no reviews at all. Plus, I want to get better at this and an honest review, good or bad, will help me do that.

I actually got a few reviews for Peeling the Onion, despite no marketing. One was bad enough that I blogged about it here. As I said in that post, the reviewer bought the book, read it, and took the trouble to return and leave a review. That was something I had to be grateful for.

As soon as the book is available, I will purchasae author copies and send one to each of my beta readers. I will also leave one on my desk, this time of course, as I am retired, I will be the only one to see it. I can't begin to explain what an amazing feeling it is to hold in your hands, a book that you created. As for the 72 hour wait, my guess is we are waiting for internal data to be moved into an external facing database. With the amount of data that Amazon moves along that pipeline, I am not surprised it will take three days.

Meanwhile, the second in the series is with beta readers, while the third is beginning to form in my head. And I need to get back to my studies, figuring out how Amazon Ads will best work for me.

PS: I have received notification that my book passed the review, so I guess it is now in the pipeline heading to the external world.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Caitlin's Escape Route - a sneak peak

My first novel is, I believe, ready to publish. I went through the painful and tedious work of trying to find an agent. After sending out over one hundred queries, I received thirty rejections and the rest were no response. My research tells me this is normal. 

I sent the last of my queries out just before Christmas and made the decision to self-publish, also known as 'indie publish' which sounds better, at the end of January if I had received no offers or interest. In preparation, I started getting my manuscript ready for KDP, Amazon's self publishing platform. I also created a cover, which I already posted about here. One of my grandsons, a talented artist, offered to create the artwork for the cover, but he is in the throes of studying for his own future career, and when I discovered KDP has a very simple, free software to create book covers, I went with that, using one of my own photographs. 

Since I decided to self-publish, I have been listening to as much advice as I can find about self-publishing and marketing my book. I found a wealth of information on YouTube, of course, and a very useful course on my favorite website, The Writing Mastery Academy

Oh yes, I did self publish a book before, a memoir, but that was back in 2013,  KDP's site has changed a lot since then and while it is very much better, it is also a bit more complicated  When I published Peeling the Onion, I had no intention of actually marketing it. To be honest, I don't expect to do a lot of marketing in the real sense for my first novel. I will do some. Once the second novel is ready to publish, I will expand my marketing efforts. 

The two novels are part of a series. Number two in the series is at the beta readers stage and number three is starting to form in my head. Number one is Caitlin's Escape Route.

The story follows sisters Caitlin and Terri. They are both survivors of domestic violence. Keith, Terri’s husband, attacks her and leaves her unconscious in their home, which he sets fire to. Caitlin convinces Terri to move from California to Texas, as she believes Keith will try to silence her.

Once settled in Texas, they work with the local battered women’s shelter. They set up an escape route, helping victims get away from their abusers. Meanwhile, in the background, Keith is closing in.

Of course, there is more to the story than just the villain and the two sisters. We meet some of the victims Caitlin helps. Women and men, straight and gay. Each one giving Caitlin a reason to rethink her belief that only straight men are potential batterers.

The second book, currently titled Sally's Story, and I don't expect that to change, but it might, is well underway. It follows one of the victims who takes advantage of the Escape Route. More will be revealed about that as we get nearer to the release date. As my beta readers are doing their magic, I am working on a design for the cover. I also have my first proof copy of the first book. I need to study this and submit any edits.

All this has convinced me that self-publishing is way more fun than traditional publishing, and faster, even if it is a lot more work. The agent querying process is time consuming, tedious and no fun at all; and the biggest disadvantage is that from finding an agent to actual publication could take up to two years! I am way too old for that!

I will let you know when Caitlin's Escape Route is available to purchase on Amazon. It will be in both paperback and Kindle format.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Watch this space

 I will be revealing my first novel here soon. It will be something like this:

Peeling The Onion

Peeling The Onion was the first book I wrote and published. It is a memoir. Written over a number of years, and self published back in 2013. I am now attempting to find an agent for my second book, my first novel while busy editing and polishing my third book, second novel.

I published this post on A Lick & A Promise, my personal blog of random thoughts.

I didn't set out to write a book.   It is on here.

When I was a child, during a period in my life when my parents had a very tumultuous relationship, every time there was a major 'incident'to an eight year old introverted child, that was equivalent to WWII.  When the dust settled, I sat down and wrote a blow-by-blow account of the entire event.  I did it because I was so stressed I felt that I would explode if I didn't find some sort of escape valve, and writing it down was exactly that.

How I wish I had those written records now. I know that my mother saved them in a folderprobably marked 'Dick', not just because he was one, but that was my father's name.

She probably hoped that one day they would prove some sort of safeguard to her sanity, but that was back in the days when broken marriages were blamed entirely on the female of the species, and my written accounts may well still be sitting in a folder in some archive. But to me they were cathartic.  

Anyway, I only just realized that this was a habit that I had long ago formed. Because when I came to the US I abandoned my therapy, and my most amazing therapist Dickstrange that, same name as my father, and even more strange, a name I always loved. Anyway, I digresswhen I got here (Texas) I started writing as a way to release myself from the shackles of my past.

The more I wrote, the better I felt. Eventually I had about 50,000 words, in a series of disjointed essays. Every time I revisited them I reread and enjoyed them as though I had never read them before, let alone written them. But the words were very important to me, so I tested them on a few people and the reaction I got was favorable, however, naturally enough these were people who knew me well and also knew the situations I wrote about.

I wanted to get reactions from people who didn't know me, or at least, not so well. My son read some of it and was (he said) enthralledand I do believe him, because I taught him to be honest. But he was one of the 'knew me well' group. My mother in lawa very blunt and honest woman, read it and said I should publish it. So I put my disjointed written purgative in a blog. I got more feed back, my niece Nicola, we haven't met or spoken in decades, read it and took the time to privately email me with very gratifying feedback. My cousin Pat, who has a starring role in one of the chapters, actually bought the book and emailed me that she was reading and enjoying it.

Finally my husband, who I am fairly sure never read any of what I wrote, but who supports me in everything I do, convinced me to publish itand now that Amazon has a platform where anyone can publish anything, I bit the bullet. I tried to make it more of a journal than disjointed events, and I really don't think I succeeded, but I hope it worked.

Once published, I purchased 10 copies of my book and gave copies of it as gifts to my children, my mother in law, and to my closest friends.

I cannot describe how I felt when one of my good friends told me how she has become totally enthralled while reading my book. She said that she was immediately 'drawn into the story' and that everything she read 'drew pictures in her mind' so that she could see what I was writing about.

I made no effort to market my book. Mainly because I felt I would be somehow conning people into spending money on something they would not enjoy. Yet I did sell quite a few copies and I actually got some good reviews from people who didn't know me. I also go one very bad review, but, when I thought about it, at least that person bought and read my book and then took the time to write a review!

Caitlin's Escape Route is live and selling

That is to say, I have sold a few copies. A first novel is very much a chicken and egg situation I believe. If you have no previous novels, ...