Ramblings

4/18/2018

ESEW is now wide again. For how long? It depends on whether I freak out or not over the rankings or lack of pages read and sales on other channels. It was barely earning $10 a day even though I was spending $14 a day in advertising, sometimes $20 if you add AMS in there. For FB ads, the relevancy was 10 for one ad and 8 for the other but there are only a quarter of the reads and sales it used to have so what’s the point?

I’m tired of having everything in one basket and I hope I can hold on for as long as I can wide. It’s too stressful not knowing if there’s a glitch with Amazon or not while everyone else is making $10k a month and here I am, suddenly not even making a grand.

4/9/2018

This one should be titled, Focus On Your Own Paper, another term I’ll use for Comparison-itis that affects me from time to time.

I see books that are making a lot of money in the Amazon store that are labeled dark romance and when you read them, it glorifies rape in all its forms. Reverse harem (RH) is big right now and considering that it originated from anime, there’s nothing of the anime spirit in these Western takes of the genre at all.

Some of it is, again, rape in different shapes and sizes. This time, it’s not just one man but a lot of them. They rescue her and they abuse her from the get-go. It reminded me of The Fan Club by Irving Wallace which I bought back in 2016 when it showed up as a recommended read somewhere I don’t remember. It’s basically about a group of men who kidnap this actress and keep her in a house. They’re her biggest fan and they’re going to act out what she had stated in an interview, about being taken by force, blah blah blah. It’s a fantasy, she says later, but after the first one rapes her, the rest of them follow. Maybe one of them doesn’t, at least, not right away. He wants her willing to have sex with him so he uses gentleness to get what he wants.

The ending is a twist that I didn’t see coming but it was still a rape book and after reading one RH book halfway a few nights ago, The Fan Club came to mind immediately.

But the thing is, it turns out that rape is big in indie publishing. Dress it up in silk and jewels, in fairy tale retellings and sci-fi worlds but it’s still rape… and it sells big time.

But I have to keep my eyes on my paper. I can’t write it, for one, and I’d be triggering myself big time if I did. But to do it for money, now that’s the secret. Surely I can set aside my triggers for money, right?

Nope, I can’t. So it’s back to my angsty romance for me even when there’s no money there. Maybe a few pennies but it’s better than nothing.

4/8/2018

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 11.32.05 PM

Thought I’d show what happened to my sales for this month. It’s nonexistent when compared to the last few months. Given that last month (March) was bad, April is worse and so far this is what’s going on with Amazon the past two weeks:

  1. They closed down customer accounts without explanation. Some got reinstated but it made me realize that if they did that to me, then I’d lose access to all my Kindle books, Amazon Prime Video, and even access to Alexa. Interestingly, those people who had their accounts closed may have also contributed to missing KU pages read for authors in #2 because if the customers are believed to be bots and their reads fake, then whoever books they “read” will get those reads stripped, too (?).
  2. They took back KENP reads from a lot of people. Judging from posts on Facebook, Kboards and Dirty Discourse, it’s happening to a lot of people and some have received emails about suspicious activity on their books and that they’re not going to share their reasons.
  3. There’s a third one somewhere but I can’t remember what it was. The table above is just too glaringly distracting.

Anyway, I’ve unchecked the renewal button on my books. They’re leaving KU because if KU reads cannibalize any sales I would have gotten and KU reads aren’t there for whatever reason that I cannot for the life of me explain (I’m still paying for ads, about $20/day now instead of the usual $40/day), then there’s no point in staying in KU.

The lack of sales for April is a good place to start. I can’t honestly say that I make so much money with KU that I have to stay, not when it dipped in March and is just about nonexistent in April so, at this point, I’m not losing anything by leaving. I certainly am not going to sit and find out how it’s going to be for May.

In the meantime, I wasted writing time making this video:

And because the gunfire kinda freaked me out and in case Facebook wouldn’t approve a video featuring men waving rifles or worse, ban my account, I made this second one:

While I was making it, Lucas was asking me why the music was so sad. Indeed it is and it’s supposed to be a darn romance. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to nail this one down. The details escape me every chance they get. Hell, even the characters’ names escape me half the time. I have to stop and think who they are that I need to paste their names in front of me starting tomorrow.

4/6/2018

Sales continue to suck and this time, I’m hearing it from other people, mostly mid-listers like me. The only ones who aren’t complaining are those who have a high ad spend so they are making money. One of my theories is simply that there are SO MANY NEW RELEASES WITH HUGE AD BUDGETS that to rank in the store, books like mine have to get kicked off their usual rankings.

There’s only so much room.

And I think Amazon did something to visibility where it’s basically impossible to see your books because again, all those new releases are hogging the top 1000, especially when they have huge budgets like $300 and up PER DAY.

I’m not going to compete with that. The only way I can make it out alive is to focus on finishing my book. Of course, I’m stuck again. I’m at 19K words with Sawyer and you’d think with an outline already made, I should be coasting. But of course not. I’m second-guessing myself again now that I’m in the second act. It’s crazy.

But at least I did a cover reveal last week so that’s a start, right?

Lighter

The response was okay. I think now I have the wrong cover for the story. I needed something more evocative of PTSD, the effects of it, not some ex-military guy on the cover. So that’s a big miss on my part and it’s my fault.

But after spending too much time with it, fixing every hue, every shadow, and every eyelash, I need to let it go, finish the book, go through the paces of launch day and then move on. Heck, I need to finish it and then work on the other books on my list. Move the fuck on.

Like Jordan’s failed premise, I don’t think I can top Dax’s book at all at this point with Sawyer’s. The only way I can do this series some justice if I write another Dax and Harlow book. I just don’t understand why I’m not feeling these characters (Alma and Sawyer) like I did Harlow. Part of my problem is that I’m too scared of writing PTSD wrong, of writing military wives and widows wrong, of writing every word wrong. I’m just too fucking scared. And that’s why I delete more than I write new words.

I just wish I wasn’t too scared to write Alma the way I wasn’t scared at all in writing Harlow. I can’t even remember her and Sawyer’s name half of the time. I have to pause and think, and that’s a bad sign.

But I can’t keep looking back at how Dax and Harlow’s book “wrote itself,” because that’s me resting on my laurels. I need to work Alma into my system and also come up with a woman who’s not depressed because, heck, that’s me. I need her to be the woman I want to be, someone who goes after what she wants.

I also need an editor.

3/21/18

Wow. My last post is like a distant memory. I barely remember how I felt that day and maybe that’s good that I write this down because I don’t remember shit anymore.

So I guess I’ve gone through the stages of grief over my abysmal sales because as of now, I’m in ACCEPTANCE mode. Acceptance that my sales suck, my books suck, my audiobooks suck, and my life generally sucks. Of course, it could be worse. I could have ZERO sales, so I’m just going to hit that acceptance button and move on.

In the meantime, I’m going through some pretty stressful moments and I don’t know if it’s those crazy hormone levels or whatever, but just the thought of managing my Readers Group has got me stressed. The suggestion that I open it up to hardcore readers to run the group sent me on DefCon 4 as far as my anxiety level went. What if they’d say something negative or bring up the naked guy thread and someone puts up fucking BT’s picture? The day someone posts one is the day I delete the group.

I really should just delete it because no one really does anything.

I also said something I shouldn’t have said in a group where the narrator in question was a member. I’m sure she saw it before I deleted it but whatevs. I’m bitchy when I’m stressed out over money and life and my writing. I’m literally making pennies a day with my books, each hour is like a dollar here and fifty cents there. In the meantime here I am making more ads and hoping they work but NOTHING IS WORKING.

I don’t know what to do. I should just delete the group and just post when there’s a new release. I only get in trouble when I post in groups or comment anyway.

3/13/18

The downward spiral continues with my sales for March. My ads which have remained the same throughout only get half of the reach they used to get. At the same time, I’m seeing more ads from the big guns, the top earners on Amazon Kindle, on my Facebook newsfeed.

It’s friends post – friends post – ad – friends post – ad – friends post.

And they’re everywhere. Amy Brent has a new book out and so that’s what I’ve been seeing a lot as well as other big names in her genre. They’re probably spending over $300 a day for their ads while here I am, dialing down my ads because they’re just not working anymore, like, overnight… or the moment March began. My huge sales dip is evidence of that. It’s like they waited until March to kick it into high gear and everyone else who doesn’t have that high daily budget is left in the dust.

But I also can’t try to keep up with them because I’m selling “old” books. It’s my backlist. Why spend tons of money on that while receiving emails from readers asking about the books 3 in the Celebrity series and Different Kind Of Love?

It definitely begs the question: what do I want out of this career? Do I want to write because I love it or do I need to write because it’s the career choice I made? And if I can’t keep up with the midlisters (which I was until March), then what do I do? It’s not even a question of whether you love writing or not. You either love it and the income that comes with it or you get the fuck out of the game.

The answer has always been to write the next book but even that’s not good enough because if I write the way I always write (slow), then I’ll still be left behind.

It’s an excuse, I know, but right now, I need to focus on the writing the next book and that’s Sawyer’s. Of course, I had to take a break from that to fix Jordan’s book and I hope I got it right. It goes on sale this Friday – Sunday for 99 cents and so far I have the following promotions scheduled:

  1. Send out my own newsletter and there are no swaps scheduled for this one
  2. Boost a post or make an ad for the sale – maybe $20 per day
  3. Shifted Sheets – 3/16 ($25)
  4. ENT – 3/17 ($65) (I finally got an ENT! I almost missed their notice because I couldn’t believe it! Thank goodness I didn’t sign up for a Bargainbooksy which I almost did because that was $80!)
  5. LKBB – 99 cent promo newsletter
  6. Magic of Books – Promo blog tour

Here are the promo teasers I’ve done so far:

03/08/18

For the first time this year, my ROI was in the negative between my ads and earnings. My ads are kinda the same. I even made new ones to replace others that may have tired people out. But nope, the FB algorithm has changed and so what cost me 10¢ before now costs 30¢, even more PER CLICK. And when you look at the sales dashboard, there are no sales.

So I’m pulling back. My overall ROI for the first 8 days of the month is UNDER 100% and that’s bad. that means I’ve spent more money on my ads than I made selling books. And that also goes for Draft2digital where Naughty Pen’s books are. Sales tanked. Absolutely tanked from two months ago. So I can’t rely on sales there anymore because there aren’t any. Yesterday, two books sold. That’s it. But that’s the first for the month so far.

So everywhere it’s bad and I have to pull back because I have no money now to spend. If I don’t sell, fine. If the books topple in the rankings, fine. Leave it alone. I hate that my pride prevents me from letting them fall. Pride wants them to look like they’re selling when they’re not.

And the answer is pretty simple: FUCKING WRITE THE NEXT BOOK.

Breaking the Rules - Crop 3

03/7/18

The last few days have been a shock to me. My sales plummetted and for the first time in a long time, my ads are not working.

ESEW ads are getting me 40¢ per click from their usual 10¢ clicks. AMS ads have shown zero sales for the last five days while bleeding me dry with cost. Bleeding being an exaggeration given that the bill doesn’t go over $10 but still, in the absence of sales and KU reads, it’s a lot.

Today, the total sales as of 10:54 PM was $30 and change. $30 and change. That’s it. That’s how much I pay for advertising and yet that’s all I’m making right now. And because 90% of my books are in KU, that’s the only income I’ve got.

At this point, I should just remove Collateral Attraction out of KU since its run expires on March 9 and not advertise it. Let it fall in the ranks and focus on my WIP. But at the same time, if there are no sales in KU, how can I expect there to be sales elsewhere?

I’m just pretty shocked right now. I don’t know what’s going on. It doesn’t help that I distract myself with FB drama ALL. THE. TIME.

So in the meantime, I need to figure out what to do.

But first thing’s first: I need to finish Sawyer’s book.

I also need to put my marketing in place. That’s what I thought I’d done before my ads started failing all over the place and stuff stopped selling. You just have to check it everyday and tweak it every day.

sawyer-redone-saturation-squashed

I made it softer and there’s a filter in place. This is the mockup of how it would look like with the background extended.