The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 15 Results
Nicely inundated with Instafreebie requests and notices (and subscribers.) Still only minutes a day to maintain. Progress on creating sales from direct emails.
Written fiction words: 8454
– free – 0
– paid – 0
– free – 5665
– paid – 0
– New Total: 608
– Net: 188 added
Book sales this week
– Amazon – 1, PublishDrive – 0, StreetLib – 0, (Draft2Digital – 2, Lulu – 1 these just reported from March, early April); Total Week’s sales – 2
Note: May have to do supplementary monthly sales, as D2D shows up a month later, as does Lulu.
Books published this week:
None (see note below.)
A great lot of progress this week, overall… and like the U. S. obesity problem, there is always a big but…
As from an upcoming article, there were Gremlins at work this week. Mainly as I had to work with cows two full days this week to get things moved around on the farm and everything healthy. One was a sales day where I shipped 6 calves to auction and brought back a new one.
The other day was finding a cow butting its newborn as the cow had an infection in its teats, so didn’t want the calf drinking from it. Both cow and calf are fine now, the cow got some antibiotics and I bottle-fed the calf for the first couple days until she was feeding from her mama. (We only give antibiotics when something is sick and the vet recommends it. Otherwise, only grass and water, plus some minerals.)
More on keeping a writing discipline below.
There is some sort of problem with Instafreebie auto-importing subscribers. I only had one out of 166 sent over to my Mailerlite account this week (good thing I checked.) Of course, I have the support people looking into this. Doing a double-check, I imported the entire list from Instafreebie and found an additional 224 subscribers (yay!) That “only” notched up to 608 total from 420. Which means I’m only about two weeks away from having to pay for my email service – a good thing, overall – as I’ll want to concentrate on sales conversions.
One point is that this is probably the best newbie onboarding week ever – 240 people who haven’t gotten any email from me. As I send out weekly, these are definitely “newbies.” (193 from Instafreebie, 47 from elsewhere (mostly signups through LiveSensical.com)
This was the great news this week – as I was able to track my first sale directly to Amazon from my own email work. That was the test of the Bit.ly tracking article. An email to my list created traffic to the “Free Books” page, which was funneled to the book sales pages as well as the giveaway offers. The book that sold was the link that was on that Free Books page – through a Bit.ly redirect to the Books2Read.com link. Out of the dozen or so who looked over the Amazon page, one sale resulted.
Meaning that this workaround can produce sales. Next is to then configure all the bells-and-whistles to get better sales conversions from these.
Another interesting tracking point is through my email subscribers, as Instafreebie is telling me which books are being downloaded the most. Since they are each on several giveaways at the same time, this data is painted with a broad brush. But as I have dates and giveaways, I can generally start narrowing these down. More grist for the mill.
Writing Discipline and Mentors
I’m about done with WD Smith as a regular mentor at this point. From what I can see, he’s making more income from courses than book sales. (Always promotes the former and never the latter, or even asks you to join his email list.) And when you are following someone closely, you see warts and all. Smith isn’t correct about everything. There are errors here and there, in my opinion, where I’ve researched something and came up with different data. A recent comment he made was that “authors should think twice about audio.” Because his publishing operation couldn’t make that area earn income after a year of trying. In that same comment (a weekly video he’s offered on a paid subscription) he said some fiction authors are making a great deal of money with these. Meaning: he hasn’t figured out when audio is worth investing in. (Maybe he should try a paid subscription for monthly downloads. Or even offer them on his site at all?!?)
My own experience is that I have a single book which routinely sells for me as an audiobook, and also as ebooks, also paperbacks. It routinely sells in all formats – that’s the key. Most of my text-only books don’t sell as well, some I’ve published have hardly ever sold, and some never have. From this limited data, the next test would be to make audio from the next bestselling books, so that the additional version would also be available on Amazon (and everywhere else, of course.)
Smith has dropped a few broad-brush opinions in his Genre Classic Workshop about Science Fiction (“now only about dystopias” and “doesn’t sell much”) and Young Adult (“protagonist has to have a big attitude.”) Neither opinion is completely correct. Smith also said that Westerns don’t sell well. The trick with Science Fiction and Westerns are that they sell regularly. Regularly. Sure, the high volume is in Romance right now, and those prices are dropping with all the competition. Meanwhile, people want the same identical plot with different locations. So they can be cookie-cutter books – and also supposedly should approach 100K words each. Again, not necessarily so.
Note: WD Smith is an acquired taste. Brash. Opinionated. While I initially started following him as his straight-ahead writing style with no re-writes fit my own. However, it rubs on you after awhile when he is constantly holding himself up as the main example of a prolific author and his “bestseller list” status. “More about me than thee.” And also, “But what have you done for me recently?”
The main point is in the old Japanese proverb: “No one school has all the teachers.” You can learn what you can from any mentor, but test everything that anyone tells you. As Ronald Reagan quoted an earlier author, “Trust, but verify.”
So I’ve pretty much bought all the courses and books from him I need to. (Separately, I don’t like his “workshop” format where his data is in about 5 short videos each week for 6 weeks. I would rather simply get all the data, view it, and then distill it in a few hours. He has started these “weekend seminars”, but won’t record the group video and offer it later. That means you have to put everything else on hold and record it yourself. Not gonna happen, not for me. Too darned busy with life.)
Smith had one last point to leave you with. That an author can write anytime, anywhere, tired or not. Per Smith, your quality will suffer a “little bit” but the key point is to get the words out.
Actually, the key point is to produce the best reader experience possible. If you write when you’re tired, or in speed tests, you’re going to spend more time later in editing to get these books into shape.
When I’m tired, my muse is feeding me different data than when I’m well-rested. I have learned during this Challenge that I can write anywhere at any time of day. Some times and some setups (like a separate computer with a single monitor and nothing else going on) give me the highest output. And I can get inspiration from cover art for an entire story, like some people use writer prompts. But I write my best work when I’m well rested and undistracted. Sure you can nap (as Smith does) to top up your tanks and then go at it. But when I feel more like sleeping than writing, that’s what I do.
This week, this story just wouldn’t end. And I had a choice to go ahead and publish it at the end of a chapter with a bad cliffhanger (and so piss off readers who would then need to buy the next book) or simply chalk it up. The reader experience won out. Stories have their own length. You write them until they are done. I’ve gotten used to writing 2K to 3K stories in one sitting, and then publishing them. In this story, I was maybe two-thirds way through, and then have another story that builds the continuing story from a different viewpoint. So two stories published this week, regardless.
Also, at 8K, this is already a paperback. And the end of this month will have another anthology, as this is the fourth month. (First anthology included only Jan and Feb.)
The cover is already done. But the interior needs to be written into a format that is the best possible reader experience. You always want to write to make a Damn Good Book. Always write your best, and make the later ones even better. “Never rewrite, except to editorial direction,” says Heinlein. Your later books promote your earlier ones. And when they find great work, they are more forgiving of your earlier goofs.
(That said, I found some goofs in the first story of that anthology that will get correction in both paperback and ebook anthology version and the original short story. Love this digital publishing process.)
Wattpad and Cliffhangers
My (last) WD Smith workshop that just finished last week was on Cliffhangers. And I’m going to distill this and cross-compare with a Google search of sources. Because cliffhangers are key to Wattpad. Those readers like serials. Like Dickens and many other authors wrote.
I’ve attached a couple of (free download) PDF’s here on the subject:
I’d started researching Wattpad about 5 years ago on the now-defunct Storify.com (a curation platform that didn’t.) That surprised me by itself. When I went to pull up these links, quite a few were broken. Sad.
Now that I’ve finally gotten started on this, expect an article or two on these subjects (Cliffhangers and Wattpad) for this week. Later, LibraryThing and Goodreads will probably both line up for a single article, Medium will be one by itself or maybe two. And that will conclude research into the Four Uber-Reader Horsemen, other than testing.
I like Lindsey Buroker’s posts from 2012 about how she used Wattpad in her earlier days. The essential data still seems to be accurate. They are in that second PDF, converted from my Storify notes. These two PDFs then give you a preview of what I’ll publish in this article, and the route I plan to test. (Also you can see how I start broad and narrow down to the core workability.)
Meanwhile, I’ll bone up on cliffhanger skills by continuing to practice through my own works. (This week’s unfinished story is part of this practice…)
To Do This Week
0. Another story (making at least two) written and published – finish up the one(s) I have in cue plus at least another…
1. An article about “Defeating the Gremlins of Writing.”
2. An article about Cliffhangers.
3. An article about Wattpad.
4. Continue to join all possible Instafreebie giveaways and accept subscribers to the ones I’ve set up. Maybe even set up another for January…
5. Check backburner data on LibraryThing, Goodreads, Medium.
6. Revise a paperback and order another proof from Lulu.
7. Roll with the punches of getting cows to market and cared for. (Two cows to sell, and two bulls to get tested.)
If you liked this article, or got something out of it…
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Also published on Medium.