Self Publishing

Posts about self-publishing. Obviously.

Cerulean Bound Update

Happy April, everyone!

It’s been pointed out to me by the lovely Celeste DeWolfe that I haven’t blogged since January. Whoops! My incredible bad. Here goes!

Since my January post, I’ve been plugging away at editing Cerulean Bound. I rewrote a ton of stuff, added a bunch of new scenes, completely changed one of my villain’s motivations, etc. I finally finished going through all the editing notes, and now I am at the stage of “re-read the book again and make sure all the edits actually make sense.” This is my favorite type of editing, because I’ve hypothetically worked out all the kinks, so I shouldn’t have any big things to change — just enjoy the story, and hopefully shave off a few thousand words in the process. Streamline, baby!

Once the re-read’s done, I’m going to send it back to my alpha reader and editor for a second go-through. Hopefully they’ll have fewer notes this time, which would mean once I correct the new stuff, I’ll be able to start sending the book out to beta readers. From there … another round of editing, maybe two? My editor is a perfectionist, which is great in that it means the end product is always top-notch, but terrible in that it takes forever to do anything. (I love you, Mom!)

In life news, I recently went to Disney World with my mother, brother, and best friend. It was lots of fun — we ate, we drank, we rode assorted roller coasters, we ooh-ed and ahh-ed at fireworks, etc. Thank goodness for Fast Passes — waiting two hours in line for a 90 second ride is just silly. Some of my travelling companions got hit with a nasty cold during the vacation, but I ate many oranges and managed to escape the virus … until I returned home, and it walloped me in the face. I am now sniffling in my fluffy bathrobe with a mug of hot tea, surrounded by tissues, vitamin C, and throat lozenges. Nooooooooo!

I’m off to make cookies after this, then get down to some freelance proofreading work. (By the way, if anyone needs any proofreading done, hit me up!) Once that’s done, it’s back to editing Cerulean Bound. I’ve also started re-reading Imminent Danger and Chasing Nonconformity, in a valiant attempt to make sure I don’t contradict myself in book 3.

I’ll check back in when I’ve got more news on Cerulean Bound. I know it’s been a long while since book 2 was released, but hopefully there are still a few people out there excited to read book 3!

Have a great week, and stay awesome 🙂

Advertisements
Categories: Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

10k Words Cut from Cerulean Bound!

Editing on Cerulean Bound proceeds at … I want to say a “good clip,” but realistically it’s more a slow crawl. I had started November with the intention of getting the second draft done by mid-December (a.k.a. right now) but then I got laser eye surgery and things went a tad sideways.

Long story short, either the LASIK people didn’t do the surgery correctly, or my eyes are just being difficult, because my vision never got up to 20/20. It’s supposed to take a couple of days to clear up after the surgery, but by seven days out, I was still seeing blurry. The surgeon says I’ve “regressed,” which is supposedly something that usually happens around the 3 or 6 month mark, so I guess I’m just special. This means I’ll have to go for a touch-up surgery in the spring, and until then the world is ever-so-slightly out of focus. I can still drive, but the signs are blurry, and I have to make the text on my screen bigger so I can read it.

All this is to say that my editing plans got completely derailed by the surgery, and I couldn’t properly read (let alone edit) for a good two weeks after the surgery. Then my eyes had a bad reaction to the steroid drops (because of course they did) and that knocked off another week of productivity. By the time I got properly into editing, it was basically December.

But! Now I’m back home in Ontario for the holidays, so I have a good two hours every morning of (relative) peace and quiet to get my editing done. There are the occasional (read: frequent) interruptions from my father, who’s very excited that I’m home, but they’re brief so I can usually get back into the editing groove without too much trouble.

As of today, I have officially knocked 10k words off my whopping 142k first draft word count. Now, YA books are generally between 70k-100k words, so I still have a ways to go, but I’ve been able to streamline scenes and even delete a few extraneous characters, so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to get down into the 110k words zone by the end of this edit. That leaves 10k-15k for my editor to chop, which is fine, because my editor loves chopping. If editing doesn’t work out for her, she’d make an excellent lumberjack.

That’s all! Just wanted to check in and let my devoted fans (all six of them) know that I have not, in fact, forgotten about book 3. I’m hard at work, and am doing my best to get it ready for a Spring 2018 release. Stay tuned, and stay awesome!

Categories: Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Imminent Danger Now Permanently 99 Cents!

In an attempt to create more interest in my books, I’ve dropped the price of Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight Into It down to 99 cents. Hopefully this will encourage people to give it a shot, since I know that I’m much more likely to buy a self-published book if it’s cheaper, especially when I don’t know the author.

It really grates my cheese that books have become so devalued, but at the same time, I get it. I’m a consumer as well as a writer, and it’s a real gamble to spend money on something with unknown quality. Especially in self-publishing. For every excellent book I buy, read, and love (*cough*Catskinner’sBook*cough*) there are three more that turn out to be real duds. So I’m way more likely to risk 99 cents on a possibly-great book rather than $2.99+.

I’ve kept Chasing Nonconformity at $2.99. I figure that if someone reads the first book and loves it, they’ll be willing to pay a price for the sequel that’s a teensy bit closer to the price books should actually be set at. When I think back to the years of writing and re-writing and revising and editing that went into both of my books … yeesh. But then, that’s the life of a self-published author. And, honestly, I love it. I just wish it was slightly more lucrative!

In conclusion, this is my desperate gambit to attract new readers. If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions on my ploy, by all means, share your wisdom!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

Here’s a happy song to help get you through Monday!

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

My Experience with Amazon Marketing Services

In my continued desperate attempts to get people to read my books, I decided to try out Amazon Marketing Services. For anyone who doesn’t know what that means, it’s basically a marketing service run by Amazon where you create an ad that will show up when people browse related products. You set a CPC bid (i.e. how much you pay when someone clicks the ad), along with a max budget. Then you sit back and hope the people who click your ad are willing to take the next step and purchase your book!

 

My marketing adventure …

I set up the ad for my first book, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, back in January of 2017. The CPC bid I chose was $0.35 — as in, every time someone clicks the ad, I pay Amazon 35 cents. I tried a cheaper CPC bid (25 cents) but it wasn’t getting any views, so I had to up it a bit to make it worth Amazon’s time to actually show my ad.

My max budget was $200 although, SPOILER ALERT, I totally did not run through all that money. Hahaha, can you imagine? That would mean people would actually have to click the ad.

Sarcasm aside, I did see a tiny bit of return for my investment, although definitely not nearly as much as I put in. Here’s the stats on my campaign, which I ran for about 4 months starting in January of 2017:

amazon marketing services results may 2017

 

Let’s break those numbers down …

17,990 impressions: # of people who saw the ad (or the ad showed up while they were browsing Amazon and they ignored it)

199 clicks: # of people who clicked the ad (costing me 35 cents per click)

1.106% CTR: the ratio of clicks to impressions

199 DPV: same concept as “clicks” (not sure why this is a different stat)

$69.65 Spend: amount of money I spent to get people to click the ad

$0.35 ACPC: average cost per click (because I could raise or lower the click price if I found it wasn’t getting enough views)

6 estimated orders: # of sales they’re pretty sure happened because the customer clicked the ad

$15.94 Estimated Total Sales: the amount of royalties I made off selling those 6 ebooks (which doesn’t make sense because I know for a fact I make less than $2.66 per ebook sold …)

 

So what does this mean?

I spent approximately $70 to sell $16 worth of books. It’s possible some people clicked the ad, saw the book, decided to buy it later, and therefore their sales didn’t register with the “estimated total sales” measurement — but my sales have been fairly pitiful, so I doubt that. All in all, an interesting experiment, but a failed one in my opinion. I wish it had turned out better, but ultimately the point was to see if the system worked — and for me, it definitely didn’t.

I think this sort of “cost per click” system would work a lot better if the product being sold had a higher sell price — as in, you’re paying Amazon, say, $1 per click, but you make $20 if the product sells. That would make the initial payout worth it. For a $2.99 book, however, I just can’t see how this kind of marketing makes financial sense unless the purchase rate is much, much higher.

 

Anyone else have experience with Amazon Marketing Services, or something similar? I’d love to hear about it!

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading — Chasing Nonconformity Nominated!

If you’ve been following my assorted social medias, you might have heard that some wonderful individual nominated my second book, Chasing Nonconformity, for the 50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading 2016 list!

Now, I have no idea if getting on this list actually means anything — more readers, more publicity, more sales, etc. But I’m in this race now, and darn it if I don’t want to win! Voting ends on July 1, so it’s time for a flood of last-minute ballots to swing my victory!

Therefore, if you have the chance, please pop over to this link and vote for Chasing Nonconformityhttp://www.readfree.ly/vote-50-self-published-books-worth-reading-2016-science-fiction/

Thank you in advance if you vote! I would offer to share the spoils of my success, but as previously mentioned, I’m not sure there are any spoils to actually be had. Nevertheless, onwards!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Self Publishing | 16 Comments

Imminent Danger series FREE this weekend!

In honor of my four-year blogging anniversary, both Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It and its sequel, Chasing Nonconformity, are free to download today and tomorrow! Here’s the fun little promo banner I whipped up …

ID and CN FREE

If you have a spare second, please consider sharing the banner (and links) on the social media site of your choice. And, of course, download the books if you haven’t read them! I can’t promise they’ll change your world, but I can promise they’ll give you a few solid hours of entertainment — and what’s life without a little fun?

Here are the aforementioned links:

Imminent Danger
http://bookShow.me/B00S4B9U62

Chasing Nonconformity
http://bookShow.me/B016BZGR72

Note: For any authors wondering about those URLs, they’re from BookShow.me, which is a website that generates a universal link that will direct you to the Amazon site of your choice (so you don’t have to provide links for .com, .ca, .co.uk, etc.) Pretty cool, eh?

Anyway, read, enjoy, share if you feel so inclined, and above all, have a fantastic weekend and stay awesome!

Categories: My Works, Self Publishing | Tags: | 32 Comments

A. Renfro’s “The Dead of Winter” Free Today!

Fellow self-pubbed author Anthony Renfro is giving away his short story for free today. Check it out!

DOW2

A short story about an apocalyptic nightmare in a crisp frozen landscape filled with winter and living corpses.Two men try to find safety in this dead world. Hoping to ride out the night. Hoping to find warmth and shelter. Hoping not to become food for the zombies.

THE OPENING

Eric surveyed the road ahead and behind him. The world was filled with death. The highway was littered with silent, rusting cars sitting on rotting tires, waiting on drivers who were never going to drive them again. Ripped apart, torn open and partially eaten corpses littered the ground in various forms of decay. The corpses ranged from children to elderly adults. The zombies had done a number on them when they went into their “feeding frenzy.” The bodies that weren’t on the ground or pulled from their cars were still seated, and most of them still strapped into their seat belts, like they were still driving to whatever destination they had been going to before the world fell into death’s harsh embrace.

Eric breathed in deep and felt the cold air settle into his lungs. Bitter winter winds whipped at his face and tore at his clothes, trying to get inside the protective layers. Flakes of snow fell from the sky, nothing more than flurries.

“It’s something,” Eric replied, looking down at the white and grey cat in its carrier. He then put his eyes back on the man sitting with his back against a car.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CR9BLB8?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01CR9BLB8?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B01CR9BLB8?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01CR9BLB8

(Note: a couple of his other stories are also free, so check those out as well if you’re a zombie fan!)

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Take Bad Reviews with a Dash of Salt

A few weeks back, I mentioned something called the “Immerse or Die” report — which is basically where this guy gets on his treadmill and starts reading a book. If he finds three glaring errors that pull him out of the story, he stops reading and marks the book as failed. If he makes it all the way to the end of his 40 minute treadmill run, the book passes. Simple enough, right?

I was a bit hesitant about sending in Imminent Danger, since A) harsh criticism makes me sad, and B) the reader is a 50 year old man, and thus not exactly my target audience. But then I thought “what the hell” and sent it in anyway.

Which was an … interesting decision. Spoiler alert: Imminent Danger did not survive the Immerse or Die report. You can read the report for yourself here.

So here’s where we get to the “take bad reviews with a dash of salt” part. Obviously, I was bummed out. In an ideal world, everyone would love my book. Not going to happen, of course, but it’s a nice dream. So I was feeling pretty down on myself as I started to read his review.

Then I finished reading the review, and I wasn’t down on myself anymore. In his review, he pinpoints three details in the first chapter that made him stop reading the book. Damn, right? Those must have been some pretty massive, glaring flaws. Except they’re not. Here are the earth-shattering problems he found:

  • fellow high school classmates” is redundant (as in, classmates implies “fellow”, so both words weren’t necessary)
  • high schools start at 9am, not 8am
  • Eris is facing the trees, and then gets dragged in backward (did she turn around at some point? it’s not stated)

Points #1 and #3 are actually really helpful, because he’s absolutely right, and those two things (redundant language and keeping track of where my characters are) are things I will look out for in future books/editing. Point #2, however, is just plain wrong. According to the US National Center for Education Statistics, the average high school start time is 8am. Here’s the link if you don’t believe me. But I digress.

Basically, he stopped reading the book because of A) a wording choice, and B) a mix-up in which direction Eris was facing. Which is fine. I, personally, tend to stop reading books due to larger issues, like the plot not making sense, or glaring spelling issues, or an unlikable main character … but hey, different people are different!

So, all in all, I’m content with my decision to submit Imminent Danger to the Immerse or Die Report. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Did his review frustrate me? Absolutely. Will I be reading his books, or visiting his site again? Definitely not. We obviously have completely opposite views on what makes a story good.

At the end of the day, the only thing you can really do when you get a bad review is read it thoroughly and:

  1. Pick out the legitimate criticisms and learn from them, and
  2. Ignore the rest

Now I just have to keep telling myself that!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

More excellent book dedications …

I Am, by Matthew Hubbard

The Land of Stories, by Chris Colfer

Categories: My Works, Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , | 36 Comments

How To Add Headers To Your Book

Scenario: You’ve recently self-published your first ebook, it’s doing awesome, and fans are clamoring for a print copy. You’re eager to oblige them, so you start formatting the book for print. But you just can’t figure out how to get those damn headers to cooperate with you!

Never fear, friend. I’ve got your back.

Note: I’m using Microsoft Word. These steps won’t make sense if you’re using a different program. Ye have been warned.

.

Step 1: Double click in the Header area of the page 

header1

Now the Header box opens! Huzzah!

header2

.

Step 2: Get yo Header settings in order, son!

The Header & Footer Tools tab should appear once you’ve opened up the Header area. Click the Design tab and make sure the following boxes are checked:

  • Different First Page
  • Different Odd & Even Pages
  • Show Document Text

header3

Reasoning:

  • Different First Page > This allows you to make the first page in each section have a different header than the rest of the section. The point here is to avoid having a header on the first page of the chapter, as it looks cluttered. (See this post for details)
  • Different Odd & Even Pages > This lets you have your book name on the left page, and your author name on the right page (or vice versa!)
  • Show Document Text > This one’s just for practicality. If it’s not clicked, your document text vanishes. Which is silly, so keep the box checked.

.

Step 3: Set up your sections

So Word has this tricky little function called “section breaks”. To get to it, hit the Page Layout tab and click “Breaks”. At the end of each chapter, click “Next Page” to start a new section on the next page.

header4

How can you tell if inserting the section break worked? On the Home tab, there’s a little backwards “P” button. Click it, and Word will show you all the formatting in the document. Like so …

header5

So you need a different section for every chapter, along with a different section for all the stuff that comes at the start of your book (title page, front matter text, table of contents, etc.), and a different section for all the stuff that comes at the end of your book (acknowledgments, about the author, etc.)

Seriously, you need each chapter to be a different section. I’m not screwing around here. Do it. There are no shortcuts. Just make it happen.

.

Step 4: Let’s start at the top …

For the start of your book (title page, etc.), you don’t want any headers or page numbers. So leave the Header blank.

Easy, right?

.

Step 5: The first chapter

In the Header & Footer Tools tab, there’s a tricky little button called “Link to Previous”. For your first chapter, this needs to not be active. You don’t want to link your Chapter 1 header to the first section, because the first section is blank. That means your Chapter 1 header is also going to be blank. Which you don’t want. So make sure it’s not active!

header6

Important! You need to deactivate “Link to Previous” for both the even and odd page header. Otherwise one will stay linked to the previous section, and therefore remain blank. Conversely, if you type something in a linked header, it will change all the text for both this section and the previous section. Which you don’t want.

Next up, you need to actually enter text into your header. Woo! Starting on the second page (remember that we don’t want a header on the first page of the chapter), type in either your author name or your book title (depending on which side you want each one). For the sake of this example, let’s say type in your author name.

header7Now pop over to the next page and add in your book title. If you did this right, your name and title should appear on alternating pages throughout the rest of the chapter, but should not show up on the first page.

.

Step 6: Time to set up the rest of the chapters!

The rest of the book is really easy. In each chapter, enable the “Link to Previous” button on both the even and odd page. This should copy over the header text from the previous section (i.e. your name and title) and apply them to this section. Do that for every chapter, and boom! Header success!

.

Step 7: If you have non-story stuff at the end of the book …

If you have a section at the end of the book that you don’t want to have a header, just click your way into the Header in that section and disable the “Link to Previous” button. Then go into the odd and even headers and delete the text. Make sure you disable “Link to Previous” — otherwise you might delete the headers for the rest of the document.

.

But Michelle, what if I want a different header for every single chapter?

No problem! Just make sure “Link to Previous” is disabled. Then you can type whatever the heck you want in the headers for each section.

.

That’s it, folks! If you have any header formatting questions or issues, comment below and we’ll work it out. Word is a frustrating and enigmatic program, and will do random s*** to screw with your document, so you might run into problems that aren’t addressed here. For example, right now my Word likes to add a black line to the header when I delete text. Fun! So if you have any problems, let me know.

Happy Friday, and stay awesome!

.

Unrelated media of the day:

Courtesy of Imgur …

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Chasing Nonconformity Is Approaching!

What do George R.R. Martin and I have in common?

We both take obscenely long amounts of time to finish our books.

But while Winds of Winter is still nowhere near being finished, I’m psyched to announce that Chasing Nonconformity is at the final proofreading stages, and should be published in a matter of weeks!

Feel free to throw your baby in the air in celebration. If you don’t have a baby, acquire one. This is not the time for half-measures. This is the time for VICTORY!

So here’s the official update: The sequel is done. My mother/editor is currently proofreading it for the second (and last) time. Yes, she gets two rounds of proofreading. Then I proofread it. Once that’s done … publication time!

We’ll start off with the ebook, and then proceed to the print book once I get the print cover from Ravven. Speaking of which — if you’re interested in grabbing a signed copy of the print book, shoot me off an email at michellishelli@gmail.com. I’ll write a post about that when the print book actually goes live, but basically it will be ~$10 for the book + shipping. And obviously I’ll throw in assorted swag. What is life without swag? No life I want to live, I can tell you that.

That’s all for now! Thanks for checking in, and have a fabulous weekend.

 

Unrelated media of the day:

Inspirational T-shirts spotted in Asia:

Find more here: http://imgur.com/gallery/gLaWg

Categories: My Works, Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.