With just three days left in the 2018 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year bracket, it’s time to update you all on how things have been progressing.
As I type this, we have 1,512 votes so far. That’s a bit slow, but still not terrible considering the size of the bracket and the amount of time there is to vote.
Metal and Stone by Kevin Potter is in first place.
Most Voted on so far: Potter has 245 total votes, but it’s pretty close in a couple of ways. I also think if we make sure these authors and their fan bases are aware of it, the 37 votes Potter has isn’t that steep a margin.
So, how close is it? Well, Asunder by L. Steinworth is only 20 votes behind Potter in the Final Four.
There are still a few days left, so let’s see about spreading word and helping these authors and artists out. It would make me sad to hear an artist or author didn’t have an opportunity to participate.
A brief not on Brackify. As I’ve mentioned, it’s shutting down. Some of you may be getting a warning. I’d appreciate any comments if you are. That said, if you do get that screen, just know the IP is running down because of the site’s shutdown. I consider it a safe site, so you can click through to vote without too much concern in my opinion.
A quick reminder of how the tournament works. The easiest way to win is to have the most people vote for you in every round. The trick is you have to have the most people vote you through in each round, all the way to the final. As an example, 100 people could vote someone through to the finals, but that doesn’t do a cover any good if he doesn’t win the first round. It’s not total votes. It’s not simple championship votes. The winning cover has to have the most votes in each round of the competition.
This will be the only update for this type of bracket. I hope the record does get broken and that I see voters lining up to support their authors by voting, liking, and sharing the bracket with as many people as possible. You can vote at this address!
As I grow as a business man, I learn more about some of the decisions writers make, and I felt it was appropriate to discuss some of these issues in an open forum. I’m really just taking a few minutes to gain a sense as to what the rest of the community of authors out there thinks about a few things that have come up during conversations or conventions.
The Amazon formula: At Awesomecon, I spoke with a few authors about a practice that I find a bit underhanded. It’s one thing for an author to release segments of a book. One wise piece of advice I’ve heard about long-form authors is to release segments, and then release an omnibus book when everything is done. However, the more sly tool I’m opening for discussion is the habit some authors have of publishing a book. Amazon tracks “Hot New Releases” for 90 days. What some due (and it works for them, so how mad should I be), is then slap a new cover on the book and re-release it. Thus restarting that 90-day tracker and keeping the book appearing on the relevant pages. As I look at covers every day, I see this on occasion, and I hear about it more (admittedly more than I actually see it). The first topic of discussion is: Is this practice bad form or what it takes to get out there? What do you authors think about the practice as a whole an any who do it? What information do you have on the subject? (I have word of mouth and a few discussions here or there.)
Writing the story that’s in your head or the story that might earn you more: Having done more research now than I have, I understand just how small the Fantasy/Science Fiction audience really is. (Horror is that much smaller.) I have a few friends who jump at opportunity. I’ll be honest here. I don’t have any issues with writers sitting down and producing quality work for any reason. Getting other products out and bylines completed is a great strategy. I’ve had people loop me in on anthologies. I’ve only volunteered for one, and that was because I had the idea kicking around my head already. I can’t seem to write anything but the story playing out in my head. This is why Bob came out when it did, and was then followed by the much darker Caught. To be honest, it’s hard to keep my mind on Oneiros because Perception of War is playing like an X-D theater in my mind. Writing Kaitlyn’s short story has done a good job to help get the Oneiros juices flowing, which is one of the two major reasons I decided to make that my main project. I’m also aware that some genres simply sell better. I have friends that insist I’d be a best seller by now if I wrote romance. I’m not actually against any writer producing any quality work. I just don’t have a lot of “romance-specific” stories running around my head. Also, those novels are much tighter, fast-paced stories. I have to force my self to keep the word count down. How many of you struggle to write in a metaphorical box? This may mean you’re writing to try to satisfy an audience or produce a story for something for the sake of a byline. Again, I can’t stress enough how OK I am with it, I simply don’t have that ability. I have to write what’s in my mind and in my heart.
Getting Product Out in a Timely Manner: This leads me to the third topic (and I think I’ll stop here even though I could go on much more). I love epic fantasy. Most of my projects are large. But it takes time to write 400,000 words (or even 100,000). So when an idea for a shorter format story came to mind, I went at it. What this will do is something I feel is a financially beneficial decision to keep me in the lighter shades of red while I produce the deeper, wider-scoped stories I love most. I would’t be able to do this on the spot. Even Sojourn was a tangental project that was made harder for me because my mind wanted to focus on Images of Truth. The main reason I was able to work on it as quickly as I did was Elele is in both books. This other world captured my fancy. The theory is I can do one “large” project a year (like Caught or 1,200), and one or two smaller projects. I’m holding off on releasing until I build a buffer of sorts that allows me to release product more frequently, but that’s the ideal pace for me. I still admit I don’t prefer this method at the moment. I like to work on a thing until it’s done (or the draft is done) and then step away to something else. Based on where I am with Oneiros and 1,200, my newer short-fiction saga (called Mercer in case you’re wondering) is what will be my “step away” project while I’m in between drafts of the Oneiros log (not to mention trying to get 1,200 out there). The question here is, what is your ideal pace, and what do you all think is a solid “release” year?
I’d ask any author to comment below. If you could, please state what you have out and some record of where you are in terms of being a business author. What are your thoughts on these topics? What works for you?
I thought this was a good chance just to open the doors to the community and get a dialogue going on these subjects. If this goes well, I’ll make it an occasional post.
You are here for a reason. So, the question is: Why?
Entrepurpose is a book inspired by 13 intense years of struggle to find the answer to the question,
“Why am I here?”
That journey took me through three depressions, alcoholism, and unhealthy weight gain as I tried to reconcile my life without purpose.
Now that I know my why, I have experienced an infusion of life and focus that I have never felt before.
This work has become my mission, and I can enjoy it more fully each day. But, it came at a price. That price was 13 years.
My story is our gift to you.
Inside these pages are the tools and principles that led me to understand what I was born to do.
If you apply these principles to your life, you will begin to see that every experience, no matter how painful, is part of your strength. If you feel different from others, a misfit perhaps, this book will show you why different is better than better. Maybe, for the first time, you will begin to accept who you are.
Whatever the reason that brought you here, know that you are here for a reason. That reason can be understood, and once you know it, you will have a responsibility to impact the world in the way only you can.
Welcome to your rebirth.
This book is already doing well, and I couldn’t be happier for the creators. It reached number 1 in three categories: Business and Money, Education and Education and Reference.
What’s most important about this book is, it’s designed to help people who truly feel low. All the feedback I’ve seen and all the messages I’ve read continue to say, “This is what we need.” Every writer wants his or her book to have an impact, and the early returns on Entrepurposve indicate this book does that.
Now let’s meet the creators.
I met Rusty somewhere around two years ago. We both teach at the same school. Over the last few months, we’ve been working more closely as he’s teaching the same segment of the course I teach.
There’s a bond between authors. They don’t have to recognize it or accept it in any way. It’s a bond of caring for your craft. You see it when they’re a bit tired the next day because they rushed home to eat up whatever time they can with their family before they toil away at another job that takes not just a great deal of effort, but an insane amount of mental energy. I’ve watched Rusty as he’s pushed himself to share this with you. It’s not just his story, which alone is something compelling; it’s his passion.
Every day I see him talking to people about personality types and how they gather information. Every thing he does as a teacher is driven to understand how the student thinks and learns, so that he can teach more effectively. I haven’t had a chance to read the book just yet (it’s next on my TBR), but his story and his effort to find ways to reach people are already strong motivators for me.
I haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know Mr. Laprath. He’s currently a reservist in the Air Force, and any time I can help out a fellow veteran, I’m going to. You can find out more about him on the Entrepurpose website. That site also has a blog and a ton of information worthy of checking out.
So I wanted to take a moment today and share this with you. As most of my followers and those I follow know, I love giving shoutouts when dreams come true. I relblog posts where authors announce they’ve finished a book. I like it when people achieve their dreams, and I wanted to share this achievement with you.
I’m very glad I had the chance to finish this book last week. I’d been excited to read the final book in the trilogy, and I wasn’t disappointed. To remind you all what’s happened so far, please check out my review of Magic-Price land my review of Magic-Scars.
Spoiler Free Summary: Magic-Borne is the final book in the Crown of Stones trilogy. It takes place pretty soon after the events of Magic-Scars. Ian is trying to solve the mystery of his scars, save a loved one, defeat his father, and find a way to bring peace to the land. We get a lot of questions answered and the readers will get a complete resolution, which is all any reader of a series can ask for these days.
Character: Ian is still amazing. His arch shows a lot of progress from the character we met in Price. He shines more in this book. I’ll admit I missed some of the other characters who, while still in the book, didn’t get as much air time as I’d have liked, but Ian is, and should be, why people are reading the series. In my review of the last book, I’d noted I would have liked more from them, but I think pulling back a bit was a sound decision. Jarryd had some major impact moments that showed his evolution in some pretty powerful ways, but the rest of the characters simply don’t get a lot of face time. It’s understandable given the ending, but I won’t lie that I wished they had a bigger role.
Exposition: This is about the same as the last book. Schneider has a knack for blending exposition with description to help the reader avoid large blocks of data dumping. I almost never notice the exposition in her work.
Worldbuilding: So what I have to do here is admit that if someone shouts that the ending “seems” convenient (or at least the plot device that brings about the end), I couldn’t get too angry because I’d understand what they see. I’d like to argue though that what Schneider did here is not MUCH different (if not even done better) than what McCaffrey did in Dragon Riders of Pern. Before anyone throws stuff at me, realize I’m only drawing a correlation between plot devices.
Pern is my favorite series (by a lot) and will always be. But if the plot device in that series didn’t bother you, the plot device in this one shouldn’t either. Schneider did a great job closing all the loops here and letting the readers learn about a complex magic system as they needed to. She sets up the ending to be complete and fulfilling while simultaneously leaving the door open for more books from that world.
Dialogue: I’d say the dialogue in Scars was better. There were scenes and arguments in Borne that felt a little quick for me. As I write this, I’d have to say Scars was my favorite in the series on a lot of fronts. That doesn’t take away from what this book is and could be. The biggest difference stylistically was the pace of the dialogue. Even the amount of dialogue felt a bit more rushed in this book. This was not to a degree as to degrade the quality, just not the same crips, visceral dialogue we saw in Scars. It’s still a great book. I just felt this was a weaker element of the book.
Description: I mentioned problems with how I saw characters in the review for Scars, and Schneider followed up her novel with much more character description. Her extra attention to smaller character details made the book that much more visceral than the last. I thought this was a great blend between setting, scene, and character description. This was an improvement from Scars to Borne.
A note on content: I don’t think this book is as explicit as Scars. There are some adult scenes in this book too. This still serves as a plot device as intimacy is a theme that shifts through each book. Where as with straight romance (note, I’ve only read two), you tend to see scenes like this for the sake of scenes like this. Here, you get steam and impact for the character. That’s something I appreciate.
Overall: I stand by my opinion that Scars is the best of the three, but this book is a very satisfying and complete conclusion to a great story. Where Scars upped the drama and the emotion, Borne lets us slip into the the resolution like a warm bath. I appreciate how this story tied up all the loose ends and let us leave this world feeling as if we’ve seen all there is to see, for now. This also holds true to how I usually feel about trilogies. I tend to like the second act best because that’s where the most drama is. That makes this book a perfect conclusion. No, it’s not the most exciting book because it can’t be. A reader has to leave a story knowing there’s nothing more (in a manner of speaking) to be seen from this arc. Borne does that. If Schneider ever decides to go back, I’m going to be immensely pleased. This was a sold, complete, well told story with an amazing protagonist and a fascinating twist on a few old tropes.
I’ve made no bones about the fact that marketing is something I don’t understand. Oh, I have as much economics training as the next Associates Degree holder, but to be honest, I only know enough to know I don’t know what I’m doing.
My idea is to create a marketing journal. I’ll track what I try and how it works. Then I realized others might be interested in seeing what I’m doing. Maybe they know how to do it better and will help a guy out, or maybe they’re like I am, and this will help them at least be as successful as I’ve been.
This is my first entry under this Marketing Journal tag, and I don’t know how often or regularly I’ll post these. Most marketing campaigns have some sort of cost associated with it, and money just isn’t a thing I have.
I noticed Goodreads has started an add campaign system a while ago, so I thought I’d give it a try.
How it works: Well, if I can figure it out, it’s pretty easy. You start by clicking here. It’s the summary and description of how it works in general.
Like I said, advertising usually costs money. For this campaign, I set a limit of $50. For anyone smarter than me: is it completely unreasonable to think the money you invest in campaigning should at least result in the same amount earned in sales? What’s the ration of profits earned against advertising dollars? For me, I would consider this a gain if I simply get 50 people to add my book to their TBR lists. I’d be ecstatic if I sold 50 copies of my book. But I need to be told if that’s just a pipe dream.
I have a daily cap set at $5 a day. That cap is based on my Cost Per Click. I established my Cost Per Click originally at $0.5. So when I started, if 10 people clicked my link, I wouldn’t get any more clicks, but I wouldn’t lose any more money from my budget. I’m not sure how big a deal that is to be honest. My whole campaign is built to end when the $50 I invested runs out, so weather that runs out in a day or a month, I’m not concerned either way.
Now we come to the part I think might be of interest to those like me. I set up my add to target women who like a group of genres. I was very broad, basically clicking any genre my book comes anywhere near to fitting in. The first day I had 70 views. The second day I had 73 views. I didn’t have anyone click my link. I’ve mentioned before that interaction matters to me. So I changed it up. I shifted so the campaign only targeted men.
I’m a man. I wrote a book I liked. I wrote a book my best friend and brother in law might like. But when I looked at Goodreads and Amazon, I realized that the BULK of my sales and 5-Star Reviews were, in fact, from women. That’s why I chose women first. Watch this: When I shifted from women to men, my views plummeted from 73 to 22. I can say I wrote this book for whoever I want, but the fact is, women are more interested in my book than men. I shifted the campaign back to women the next day and ended with 100 views. After four days, I had 165 views, but no clicks. Time to switch it up.
Goodreads also has a feature that allows you to target people who rated a group of Authors. So if I select authors I think my book is like, anyone who gave all of those authors 3 or more stars will see my add. This is awesome. I chose Dean Koontz, Christopher Golden, Mike Molina, James Patterson and Dan Wells.
I had 23 views.
My theory is that the list of authors I gave is very broad. Only two come any where near each other, and even that is a stretch. So if only a small percentage of people read that combination, it reduces my reach. Now, this would have been fine if those 23 views also mean 23 clicks, but it didn’t. In the interest of science, I switched it from women who liked those authors to men. Again, I dropped to 16. Still no clicks.
So I changed my approach. I switched my audience to women again. Then I went back to genres. This time, I reduced the number of genres to those I felt BEST represented Bob. I chose Ebooks, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, and Thriller.
In one day, I received 3,562 views. I also received 3 clicks. Two people added me to their TBR lists. The next day I received 3,362 views and one click. I was very happy with the views and the clicks were improving.
The help section in Goodreads recommends if you want to increase your click through percentage (CTR) (percent of people who click your link from those who view your add) to change the add summary. At this point, my add was an image of the cover with the following: “Dead Like Me meets Supernatural. A story about life from the perspective of those who watch over the dying.” In an effort to increase that CTR, I changed it to, “Dead Like Me meets Supernatural. A substitute teacher must collect the souls of the dying. How does one live, when his real job is death?”
Whenever you change your ad, it takes a few days for Goodreads to approve your ad. So my ad shut down for a few days until it was approved. When it came back up, I received 2,720 views, but no clicks. I’m going to let this campaign run for a few more days with these settings. If I don’t get back above 3,000 views, or I don’t get any clicks, I’ll go back to the original add and see if those numbers climb back up.
That’s where I’m at right now. I’ve had 10,040 views and 4 clicks for a CTR of .04%. (Goodreads says the results span from .05-.5, so if I can get to .25, I’ll call that a solid first time average).
I hope this helps those trying to figure out ways to reach viewers. Of all the campaigns I’ve tried outside of conventions, this is one I feel best about because I already know I’m getting my add in front of interested readers. That’s priceless to me. Facebook and Twitter adds can be refined to interests, but people are finicky. I would not call someone who likes Harry Potter a fan of Fantasy. The reading of one book doesn’t make you a fan of genre. I’ve read two romance novels. I hate romance. I actually liked one of those books. I read it because I wanted to learn from the structure and style. Any genre is the same really in that regard. BUT, to be able to target readers who like those genres or the authors those book match is awesome! I’ll keep you all posted in how this goes.