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jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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This thread has inspired me quit waiting four months to hear back from trad publishers and try the selfpub route, so thanks to everyone who has contributed.

With that in mind, and taking in the OP advice to heart that your blurb/cover is 50% of the ballgame, here's my cover and blurb. Any and all feedback is gratefully appreciated.

DELORTED SHITEY COVER

The Silent Circus
Ulis' childhood ended the night the planes burnt his city to ashes.

Orphaned, traumatised and mute, his only companion a fellow orphan named Lidyja, he flees Nazi death squads and Soviet partisans and is driven deeper into an ancient, malevolent forest.

Lost in an endless mire, they are rescued by the strange denizens of a circus hiding deep within the forest. For a while, Ulis and Lidyja think they are safe, having found a new family, a strange and peculiar family of Siamese twins and silent ape kings and freaks and mystics.

But the Ringmaster is dead and children soon learn that the war outside holds no monopoly on horror.

jazzyjay fucked around with this message at 04:09 on Dec 10, 2015

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jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Thanks guys - it always amazes me that people I've never met are happy to take the time to consider my work so I appreciate everyone's comments.

My genre is magical realism as its a gritty historical story with fantastic & surreal elements. For comparisons think some of the earlier work of Neil Gaiman or the TV show Carnivale.

RE COVER: The ape is a main character (but not the protagonist) so it is relevant to the story. As magnificent7 said I wanted something different from a generic cover to make it stand out. Plus its one of my own photos so no rights issues there! But I was unsure if it was a good cover so thanks for the feedback. I'll revisit the design and the blurb.

MOANA, I hadn't heard of Geek Love but definitely will check it out.
SUNDAE, here are some answers to your hard marketing questions (and you weren't lying about them being hard.) And thanks for the congrats!

#1 - People who will like my book will also like Neil Gaiman, Cormac McCarthy and Milorad Pavić.

#2 - People who will like my book will like it because of lyrical storytelling and surreal cast of characters.

#3 - People who will like my book will like it because it didn't drag.

#4 - My book is similar to The Road, Sandman and The Dictionary of the Khazars.

#5 - My book is different from the books in #4 because it has a unique setting that allows the story to go to unexpected places.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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moana posted:

Every month is a nanowrimo! I'm at 18k so far this month. Here's an idea that makes things easier: do one chapter a day, those generally come out to around the daily wordcount. Once you're done writing a chapter, outline the chapter for the next day in broad strokes (think 6-10 sentences with each beat). It helps your brain think about what's coming next and gives you a clear path to start writing the next day.

This works for me. I sketched an outline of the story I wanted to tell, broke it into chapters and set myself a minimum 2500 word chapter each day and its going gangbusters.

Its amazing comparing writing now to the working on my first proper novel last year. That was a serious espionage thriller based on my experiences with the UN. I wanted it to be IMPORTANT and laboured over every word because it had a message etc etc. It was like pulling teeth to get a thousand words out a day. Every trad pub I showed it to said 'great writing, no market interest.' Hurrah.

Now I'm writing a commercial story about a sexy rogue commando (spoilers: possibly a werewolf) who comes to a small town and has sexy shenanigans with a sexy waitress running from her dark sexy past. I started just trying to make something marketable but darn it if I'm not having a ball writing it.

I'm not worrying about the "art", I'm just focused on telling a fun story well. As a result, I'm not paralyzing myself worrying about themes or whatever and, more importantly, I'm actually writing. By focusing on on short, punchy chapters, hitting story beats that I mapped out in my outline. And, because the characters usually don't end up doing what I told them to do in the outline, every couple of days I revamp the outline based on how the story is going.

I would say because I'm producing and I'm enjoying it, my writing is actually better than when I was consciously trying to write well.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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AbrahamLincolnLog posted:

An apocalypse story that features average people trying to survive would be a sale from me, at least!

You might be interested in my current project. My day job is a yacht skipper - I'm currently delivering a yacht from Philippines to New Zealand. To kill time in between watches, I thought I'd do Nanowrimo, posting the chapters to a wordpress blog as they are written, so other sailing friends could check them out. I'll post the link below, but basically its a zombie virus post apocalypse, the angle being the protag is a 19 year old woman doing yachtie stuff to survive.

The story is almost done and its taking off (as I'm getting demands for a ebook version, mailing list sign ups etc) so I'll be publishing it on Amazon in December.

Thanks to this thread and the incredible advice and guidance contained herein, I'm lining up ARCS, the promotion and marketing before publishing, so I can go hard from day one.

As far as audience goes, I've got a ready made one as pretty much every yachtie I know is a bit of a prepper and loves their kindles. I'll be doing Bknights and also Facebook ads targeting sailing groups and I'll also be pushing it to sailing blogs and the like, but want to hit up postapoc readers looking for a different angle. Can anyone recommend any good newsletter services for postapoc? Has anyone used booksends.com?

And here's the link if you want to check it out: https://jasekovacs.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/ebb-tide-the-synopsis/

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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newtestleper posted:

This is good. We need skilled sailors to sail the floating chunks of our island as it breaks apart.

From the photos I've seen of Kaikoura, where the seabed has risen above the surface, it looks like NZ is getting bigger, not breaking apart!

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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I've found that Amazon free giveaways count as Verified Purchases. I had ARC reviewers going to post a review, noticing that I was running a free giveaway for the book, downloading the book and then posting the review so it came up as a Verified Purchase. Needless to say, those people went on my favourite reviewers lists.

I've just had "Create Paperback" appear on my dashboard and a paperback column appear in my sales reports. Is this just new Createspace integration or is something else going on?

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Is the book's title End Times or Rise of the Undead as it looks like you've got two titles at the moment.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Sundae posted:

I'm going to guess there's a colon in there somewhere. End Times: Rise of the Undead

Yep, that was where I was going.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Actually, what are people's thoughts on whether to highlight it is a series?

I ask as it seems to me that many readers are hesitant to buy series that are in progress - they want to wait until everything is out before bingeing on the whole thing. I guess its a reaction to writers using too many cliff hanger endings as a method of getting readers to buy their next book.

My next book is the first in a series - but it works as a standalone. I'm not going to be promoting it as Book 1 in X, rather I'll work on the second book as a sequel and then go from there.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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I like the abstract artwork and colours etc but I think there was too much text up top and it was distracting from the title of the book.

I did a quick and dirty remix to show you what I mean. I think it makes the title clearer and still gets across that its a zombie apocalypse series.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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I just used Bookfunnel to distribute ARCs and its totally worth the $20. Streamlines the whole process and even techphobic old aunts were able to load it easily.

https://bookfunnel.com/

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Yeah the whole Amazon vs ARCs thing is another that has been covered already, so I'll just go with my own experience as everything I know I learned from this thread.

I published on 20th Dec and, when sending out the review link to readers who had had the ARC for two weeks, I said "its on sale for 99c so if you want to buy a copy, your review would be as a Verified Purchase" or whatever the term is. Of the six reviewers up, four bought a copy and are verified and so more prominent. I've had no problem with the two that aren't.

I use tinyletter.com for mail outs; they let me put 1 Main St, Sydney as my address so no home delivered hate email for me.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MRZA23Y

I've been following the advice from this thread when launching EBB TIDE and its worked brilliantly. Everything worthwhile I learned about KDP I've got from this thread (big shoutouts to Sundae and AO) so I thought I might weigh in on the advertising talk and share my experience.

Although I have two books already on Amazon, these were not launched properly and did the old sink-without-a-trace. So, effectively EBB TIDE was launching as a first novel.

I wrote EBB TIDE during Nanowrimo and wanted to launch on Christmas Day. Its a post apoc zombie with a female protag, marketing it towards women sailors. I was posting daily chapters on a blog while writing it as a way of drumming up interest, which worked nicely to build a mailing list and getting ARCs lined up.

I've spent $350 on advertising and launch, using a combo of broad scifi mailing lists and targeted Facebook ads.

I pubbed on 20th and emailed my ARC mailing list a reminder to post reviews. My advertising was due to kick off on 25 Dec. I had emailed a bunch of mailing lists asking if I could book an ad before the book was published - I booked ads in booksends.com ($25), bargainbooksy.com ($35) & manybooks.net ($25). I also bought an author profile interview on manybooks - it cost $49, pricey but I wanted to have a third-party interview up for anyone googling about the story, as way of making myself seem more legit.

Between 20-25 Dec (ie before any ads went live) it sold 90 copies. Why? I don't know - maybe it was a knock on effect from the blog promo... or I smashed the keywords or something.

Booksends and Manybooks went off on 25th of Dec. I sold 89 copies that day.
Bargainbooksy went off on 26th - sold 69.

Booksends and Manybooks newsletters only featured a few books and I felt they worked well, whereas I felt my book got lost in a long list on Bargainbooksy.

After wasting about $100 on Facebook ads, I settled down to a two ads, targeting Australian and US women sailors, budgeting at $15 a day. Per click cost worked out to be between 15-30c. No idea how many click throughs get converted to sales though...

ereadernewstoday.com wouldn't let me book an ad unless I had 10 4+star reviews... when I got them, I booked an ad for $30. That one went off on NYE, when I sold 110 copies - so pretty happy with that.

All in all, I've sold over 500 copies since 20Dec, which I'm totally stoked about. Highest sales rank was #1750 and its been hanging around #2-3000, putting it at #5-7 on Sea Stories and around the #40s in Post Apoc.

I'm keeping the price at 99c as I just want sales - as I'm now working on the 2nd in the series and hope I can play the long game here! But even at 0.99c, and including KENP, I've recouped the money I spent on ads, so it was definitely worth the effort to launch properly.

So thanks once again guys - there's no way this could have happened without the advice and experience on display in this thread.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Yooper posted:

You've got another sale from me. Bravo! Rock on boat goon. I sold mine a few years ago, still miss it and the dream.

Awesome, hope you enjoy it. And keep the dream alive, man!

angel opportunity posted:

That's pretty awesome. You may want to seriously consider switching the price to something like $3.99 or $4.99 though depending on the length of your book.

Cheers, I'm stoked! I've been wondering about raising the price. I'm a bit nervous about upping it as I'm still getting 20-40 sales a day and want to keep the rank and visibility up. Current KU reads are about average 3500 a day, which is fine. I'm primarily interested in gaining readers and exposure for now.

My current working theory is that I have had data from two weeks of ad-driven sales. Now I'll keep at .99 for a week to get data for sales with no promo, then put it back up to its initial launch price of $2.99 and then see how that affects sales.

Either way, I'm working on the 2nd book in the series now and hope to have it out in about 6 weeks - and then keep punching them out every 2 months.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Escape Addict posted:


I had a question about length. How many words is a 203 page e-book?


Ebb tide is 69 400 words; that 203 pages includes a couple of front and end matter.

As for speed of writing, its taken me a long time to get to a decent rate. I used to be happy if I got down 500 in a session - and those sessions were few and infrequent. Now I write 6 days a week (if my other work allows), and do it until I hit 2000 words, whether I feel it or not.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Escape Addict posted:

How much did the cover for Ebb Tide cost? Who did you go to to make it? And was your $350 marketing budget Australian or American dollars?

I did the cover myself as I've got a background in graphic design. And $350 was USD - I set my budget an arbritary $500 AUD and $350 is how many presidents my kangaroo bucks get these days. Thankfully, it will work the other way as well; I'm looking forward to those fat yankee $$ amazon paydays.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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I finished reading Girl With All The Gifts yesterday and had the exact same feeling of "What? Really? You want to end it how?" Without spoiling it, it seems like the author came up with his "clever" ending well into the writing of the book.

Another similar "wait, what?" ending was another postapoc, the Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin. The first two books were mostly compelling, if overly stuffed with lengthy asides. But I spent most of the last book going "why am I supposed to care about this?" before an ending that was... well, lets it felt far from earned.

I've been bingeing James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux southern detective thrillers - mostly because they're interesting, if schlocky, genre pieces with some lovely evocative scene setting. I started reading Burke with his best book, Rain Gods. Nothing else I've read of his has lived up to that, but they're still enjoyable and occasionally beautiful.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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I'm almost finished my sequel to Ebb Tide :toot:

it seems like anyone with spell check and a thesaurus is offering editing services these days. Can anyone recommend an copy editor that they've worked with? I want to find someone I can have a good ongoing relationship with on this and future books. I've queried booksidemanner, who has been recommended elsewhere in this thread.

jazzyjay fucked around with this message at 01:26 on Mar 3, 2017

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Haha well hope she can fit me in then!

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Yeah Book Report is fantastic. Now instead of refreshing my KDP Reports page every 10 minutes to see if someone's bought a copy, I can just have it running in the background, ready to ruin my writing flow when I forget about it and it suddenly goes KA-CHING.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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I wrote up how I launched my post-apoc scifi on page 136 - with what newsletters gave good results.

Since then I've run two more promos: http://www.thefussylibrarian.com/ and http://robinreads.com/

I bought a Robin Reads sci mailing list for $45 and they asked if I wanted to do a featured spot for $70. That turned into 122 sales last Saturday, which bumped me up to #1350 and the top twenty of Post Apoc, which I thought was a good result!

Fussy Libraryian was also good and much cheaper at $17 and got 48 sales.

Most newsletters only let you advertise a book every 90 days; that's about to roll around me. I'm running a new round of ads for Book #1 as Book #2 is coming out in a month.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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freebooter posted:

Did you do any free ones? ... On a different note, looking at my book stats, I'm now making about 5 times as much money from Select as I am from sales.

No, unfortunately I've been pretty time poor and haven't done anywhere near the sort of promo I should be doing. But that list you posted earlier looks pretty great and I intend to start working through it when I get Book #2 off to the editor, so cheers for posting that.

My whole strategy is geared towards Select; I've kept Ebb Tide at 99c to shift copies to keep visibility up and therefore get KU reads. Plus more eyeballs = more newsletter sign ups etc. I tried selling at $2.99, had a spike in income but after three days my rank was sliding off the face of the planet. So I put it back to 99c and it recovered. I'm not making much money in 1st world terms but I'm trying the long game with setting up a series here.

So yeah, basically I'm saying I'm KU only and have pulled my earlier books that were wide and have put them on KU. They're at $2.99 so they aren't selling anywhere as many copies as Ebb Tide - plus they were my attempts at literature rather than writing in a popular genre - but they still are generating some income now, only cause they're in the "Also by this Author" at the end of Ebb Tide.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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angel opportunity posted:

Someone is trying to doxx me I'm never posting in this thread again, bye!

AO, I've been reading this thread since the beginning - my first laughable attempts at a cover were rightly smashed on page 8 - and I remember you starting out. I wanted to say that its awesome to see your success and your advice has been invaluable to me - and I'm sure it is for many other folks.

Your transparency and willingness to help others has been a great inspiration (and why I'm posting about how my own book is doing) so its bullshit to see someone loving with you. Good luck and I hope this poo poo doesn't get you down.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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I'm about to publish the third book in my South Wind series. I've posted in this thread about my experiences publishing books 1 and 2, so I thought I would share anything useful I learn with this launch.

Book three has been a long time coming as I've been working full time for the past two years. More than full time actually - running a diving operation in the third world is a time sink I do not recommend! Anyway, I'm out of it now, so able to focus on launching Flood Tide. Its going through its final proofread so I'm starting to line up promotions etc.

On thing I'm trying this time is BookSprout to gather ARC reviews. Previously I've used Bookfunnel to distribute ARCs but BookSprout's all-in-one approach to gaining new readers looks interesting. If you're interested in snagging an ARC of the first two books, here are the links. I'm using the free trial version so can only distribute 20 copies of each book though.

EBB TIDE: https://booksprout.co/arc/21099/ebb-tide
SLACK WATER: https://booksprout.co/arc/21100/slack-water

As for actually launching the book - since its the third book in the series, I was thinking of making the first two free for 5 days and launching the new book at 99c. Then after five days, putting book 1 to 99c as a loss-leader and setting 2 & 3 at 2.99 for a while. Promo it in Freebooksy, Fussy Librarian and eReader News as I've had a decent result with them last time.

Then in a couple of months, I'm planning to bundle all three as a trilogy and republish as a single volume in time for Christmas, probably going with Facebook ads as I hope the larger cover price will validate the larger advertising send.

If anyone's got any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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ketchup vs catsup posted:

The visual motif you had going of the girl standing and looking with the titles in front and the cool background is completely replaced with a close up muddy shot.


Thanks for the feedback - that's a bloody good point about the change in motif! I'll see what else I can come up with.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Bardeh posted:

I was going to say the same thing. Book 3 doesn't look like it's from the same series as the first two.

eurgh now I remember why I went with that cover in the first place - its virtually impossible to find a stock photo of a woman with a firearm that isn't ridiculously sexualised.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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feedmyleg posted:

Probably not a fair assessment, but that's what my mind jumped to as well. Blonde girl with big gun + scary indigenous art = MAGA fantasy.

Haha aaahhh yeah that juxtaposition is not something I considered - but is pretty obvious now I've taken a step back. That's reason enough to junk that cover. I make a cover while planning a novel as its both fun and helps make the project real. In this case, I never revisited the cover since doing the initial concept art, using whatever photos I had already bought on my stock photos account.

It's interesting what Freebooter says about problematic issues, as its something that I'm well aware of while writing. In this case the villain is a white guy who co-opts Polynesian iconography such as facial tattoos as part of his bullshit agenda - I've had Maori friends check it out to make sure I was being appropriate and got the feedback it was all good. Mostly because they were sick of white guys doing stuff like this in the real world so enjoyed seeing one get his comeuppance.

I'd used depositphotos.com years ago when I was making commissioned romance covers, and found the selection of photos of "women with gun" who are NOT in bikinis or underwear depressingly low. But I've just checked out shutterstock.com who have a much better range - and also are having a special deal until October 3 where the first month's subscription of 10 photos are free - the code is TRY10FREE if anyone is interested.

I came up with three new design concepts and sent them around my reader group. If anyone is interested, votes were 100% for the third.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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Interestingly I haven't done anything with the photo beside text and scratches - all the lighting is in the original photo. My guess is the photographer used fill flash or lighting to offset the sun behind the model and that's what you're picking up as weird lighting effects.

jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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I finally published the third book in my trilogy - which is almost two years after the last book came out :/ Still, it was great to get KDP to link all three together into an trilogy - its a nice feeling after all this time.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0753KKR7B

Anyway, marketing report: I distributed review copies with BookSprout which seems to be working well for managing the ARCs.

As its the third part of the trilogy, I'm focusing the marketing on two audiences - existing fans on the Facebook page/mailing list are getting the "third book is finally here" messaging - and I'm also promoting the trilogy as a whole to new audiences. The mailing lit is only 123 people but I've sold 22 copies through it. What was nice was I sent out an email saying "Book is out and on sale tomorrow" and a dozen people immediately bought it rather than wait for the price drop.

I'll be using paid email and Facebook marketing ongoing for the latter. I've got all three books on sale for 99c to encourage new readers - I'll go back to usual pricing in a couple of days.

Facebook marketing is a weird beast as I'm sure anyone who has tried it will attest, so I'm going carefully here, with small budgets hitting targeted audiences to see what works and what doesn't. I'll let you guys know if its worthwhile.

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jazzyjay
Sep 11, 2003

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freebooter posted:

Looking for a bit of cover feedback. I'm super happy with it but always good to get another set of eyes for minor tweaks. For comparison, this is the first book in the series (in which I had some reviewers specifically say it perfectly suited the tone of the book):



And this is the second which my artist has only just done:



Thoughts? I think the only thing I'll ask her to change is to make the author name black to stand out better.

I freakin love em

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