My First Free Promo

If you read my previous post, you got the part where I continuously checked for sales of my ebook Another Place on the Planet once I put it up for sale on Amazon. Two weeks ago, I had a great day doing that.

I made my book free for the weekend. If you publish on Kindle and use KDP select, you get 5 free days every 90 days, or the ability to do a countdown sale. I chose free since I’m new and need exposure about as bad as seedlings needs the sun.

So that was all well and good, but how to let the world know?

First, I made a Facebook ad that looked like this:



I budgeted $35 a day for three days and paid by the click. So every time someone on Facebook saw it and clicked on it, which took them to the Amazon buy page, I was charged. When you reach your daily budget, the ad comes down for the rest of the day. It averaged roughly .50 a click. Over three days, the ad was clicked 194 times. When I set up the ad I was able to define my target audience. I chose authors and TV shows with themes similar to the book. There are several other parameters FB lets you select, It was pretty easy. I have no idea if any of those clicks led to downloads. FB told me of a possible audience of 78,000,000 in the US, UK and Australia, the ad reached over 43,000.

I also paid a couple places that advertise free books. One was $10 for one day, the other $15 for 3 days. I found several other places that will advertise your free book for free, if they have the room. There are also tons of Facebook pages that connect free books with seekers and others that will post your book, free or not. They each work differently. That’s pretty time consuming, too.

Overall, I guess I did okay. Friday, there were just over 600 downloads, Saturday, 230, and Sunday, 90 something, for a total of 918. So, now there are that many people with my book on their device. Hopefully some will read it and a few of those will leave a good review. Maybe some will come looking for Book 2 in about 6 weeks. It didn’t lead to any sales afterwards. I guess you need downloads in the tens of thousands for that.

Anwwhoo–What I Learned:

1. I’m only going to do another FB ad when I will be selling books for a price. It was interesting and not discouraging, but I don’t want to keep spending money on free when there are free ways to advertise.

2. There are plenty of places to post your book. I need to become diligent it seek them out, getting used to the variables and using them on a somewhat daily basis.

3. Just do one free day at a time.

4. Try a .99 sale.

So, I’m a bit more savvy about the process. We’ll see what happens next. Now, to go work on the next one…

Thanks for reading!


A Day in the Life of Lily Mayfield.

I’ve had so much going on lately that this blog hasn’t made it to the top of the to do pile yet, so I asked Lily if she’d mind filling in for me so the blog-o-sphere doesn’t think I’ve fallen off the planet. Not that it would notice. Or care.


This is something like I imagine on the stage for House of Straw. Thanks to Los Angeles School of Film.

Lily agreed.


A day in the life of Lily Mayfield, huh? Hmm…I haven’t had a typical day in a while. Not since Charlie. Anyway, how about today? Actually, it’s quite atypical. I’m here, in a town car being driven to my first day as a real director of a real movie, House of Straw. I’ve only been in L.A. a few weeks. It wasn’t that long ago that I drove on roads that saw far more horses and buggies that Maseratis and BMWs. So I could let it scare the hell out of me–all the money and people with it who think it makes them something special. But there are good people here, too. Charlie, despite himself, has some really great friends that have welcomed me as one of their own. Marvin, the studio executive who’s letting me stay in his guest house; actors Sophie and David; pastors Jim and Josie Castle. I can’t remember when I had so many friends. Seriously. I’ve never been a person that attracts others, I guess. I’m not ugly, and I don’t smell bad. Honest. Just an introvert or something.

I don’t know if this has ever happened before–somebody with hardly any filmmaking experience being given a directing job on a studio feature film. I’m not even is the Director’s Guild so the studio and producers have to find a way make them happy. Probably the credit will go to someone else while I do the work. I don’t mind. They said they can make so I get the credit as an intern or something so I can apply to the guild later. As if. I took a filmmaking minor in college over 20 years ago, never once thinking I’d end up here. Dreamed it, of course. Who doesn’t? All I had to do was fall in love with a preeminent director and sign on to work on his film, have him dump me for a baby mama and go away for the weekend with his friend so he could try to kill himself. An unconventional way of paying dues.

I have to admit, I am good with the actors. It might be the subject matter that I’m so close to. Some of the scenes from this movie are ripped right out of my life with Mike, my late ex-husband who abused me for years. I’ll spare you the hows and whys, but I certainly can relate to the characters and now the actors, Blaise and Sophie. I’d seen them both on the big screen, of course, and recently there they were, hanging on my every word, taking direction from me. Blaise says we’ll get nominated for Oscars. That might just be his wishful thinking, but I do believe the work we’re putting in is award worthy. That scene that Charlie asked me to take so he could spend the morning with his baby mama, I have to admit was powerful. I wasn’t the only one with tears streaming when I called “Cut!”

Well, here we are, at the security kiosk at the entrance to Mythic Studios. If I get to say “Action!” for the first time without puking, I’ll be surprised. The car is taking me to the door of the soundstage like a VIP. I hope I play this right. I think I have it in me to do this, if only I don’t get in my own way. People believe in me. Charlie and others see things in me I always hoped were there but was too afraid to let out. Afraid of the world and how it works, afraid of people. And God.

Time to do this thing! The driver is coming around to open my door. Here’s my chance. I don’t have to be perfect, just have to be my best and give it everything I got. I mean, why would experienced filmmakers hand over a multimillion dollar film with A-list actors if they didn’t think I could produce for them. But I’m doing this for me. For my future so I can at least say I did it. And for my past, to give that pain and suffering  meaning. And for now, for the women and men suffering from domestic violence today. To give them a voice again.

I can do this! I will do this! Watch out world. I’m here!

In Which I Ponder Whether to Take a Writing Risk

I’m approaching the end of the 2nd draft of Places Bright and Dark. There’s a choice I’m going to have to make.


Thanks to Digital Import (Chris)

While I can only speak for myself for sure, other writers must encounter this as well. I’m writing along, full steam. Muse is is jumping around, spewing good ideas. I’m in the zone! That zone we writers love, when there is no such thing as writer’s block, when all is right with the world, and if it ain’t–hey, screw it–I’m in the zone. I’m writing agreat scene–Action! Challenges! Conflict! And I have to get the character out of the situation alive. I type the first thing that comes to mind because it’s good. But unrealistic. I mean, I’ve heard of this kind of thing happening when people have been in impossible situations and death is imminent unless the Divine intervenes.

So the Devine intervenes. “I’ll change it when I revise,” I think, and carry on, laughing, hand in hand with my muse.

The time to revise is approaching. I like the divine intervention in the story. It fits. It’s like a reward for the character’s faith struggle, because, otherwise, it’s not rewarded. At least not yet or in the way she wants.

But many readers will say it’s not believable. It’s too easy. It’s deus ex machina.

There might be other ways, regular ways. It’s said in writing first ideas are often not the best ideas.

But I think sometimes the first ideas are the best ones. Sometimes. Often, first ideas are cliche, maybe based on a recently experienced movie or book. But other times they flow from the spirit of the story, from the theme, from what the story is really about. And to mess with that is to diminish it, to make it smaller than what it’s meant to be.

Maybe the whole scene is over-the-top. But we’re dealing with larger than life characters in a world that exists, but most people are not involved with–the super rich when they party. And the supernatural solution can be used in the future as reassurance because it’s going to be needed.

Maybe I need to rewrite the scene to include a realistic solution and run them both by readers.

I’ve written before that writing involves choices. The audience has to be considered in the choice, but the truth of the story must also be adhered to. To go with the divine intervention line is risky. Actually, that entire section of the story is. But what’s the point of writing just another safe romance? It’s not what the book or the Lilyland series is about.

I used to wonder what was meant when a writer or movie director took risks. Now I know.

Writer’s Blog: Breaking Bad

 Happy belated New Year! It’s still January, and the year is still new. 2013 got off to a rough start. My mother hasbrba been very ill and the far off inevitable of her death became a very close possible. She’s doing better now, but the inevitable has just been stalled. It provided me with a moment to step back and see how I handle pain. I used to think I was a warm fuzzy, but when my defense mechanisms go up…well, I learned a few things.

With that going on, it was difficult to focus on writing. I did some creative writing for Lilyland 3, most of which probably won’t stick, but I can’t not write and my mind wasn’t in form for revising Places Bright and Dark (Lilyland 2) because that uses the analytical part of my brain or to say, my weaker part. So I did something I don’t so often–dove into a TV series on Netflix.

I’ve been hearing for years about how good Breaking Bad is. People and websites I respect and admire have been singing its praises, so I decided to see what the buzz is about.


The writers don’t pull any punches. A while back I posted  about what sucks me in as a reader and what I’m missing from many books I’m picking up these days. To sum it up, it’s meaty conflict! BB consistently has LOTS. I was well, shocked. Horrified. Entertained. Hooked.

The main character Walt, has major problems, big ones. And his solution–use his genius level chemistry background to make meth and sell it for enough money for his family (pregnant wife, teenage son with moderate disabilities) to be financially comfortable when he dies in less than a year from stage 3.5 lung cancer. Each step he takes becomes more and more complicated, each decision ripples out and involves more and more people. As he becomes painfully aware of some of the consequences of his choices, he is further dragged into the vortex and becomes what he had no clue he could ever be. To the point he difficult to like and relate to. But that’s part of the appeal.

I’m into the fourth season now. It’s graphically violent and the viewer isn’t spared. But that’s the nature of what Walt has gotten himself into. What he thought would be a few cooking sessions has turned into running with–and away from–people so greedy and desperate that taking a life to make apoint means nothing to them.

Even when the conflict isn’t physical or violent, it’s there. Making a tough choice, thinking it’s the right thing until fate intervenes. Family becoming involved. Lying. Premeditated murder. Choosing to take the next step into a dark place that was never the intended destination.

I made a few changes in my plot since beginning watching the show. No, it’s not violence. There are a few scenes I could have wrapped up nicely for Lily’s immediate happiness, but I took a harder road. So Lily has to as well, poor girl. I like a happy ending, sure. But by contrast, a happy ending is happier if it takes a lot of grit and agony to get there. If it weren’t for the dark, we wouldn’t appreciate the light and all that.

But at the same time, I have to be aware of my audience. I don’t claim to write straight out romance, at least I try not to. Readers expect something different then. One reviewer seemed very disappointed in Another Place on the Planet. She said it was  “awkward and depressing.” And I guess it would be to someone expecting roses and unicorns and happily ever after. When you get the aftermath of spousal abuse and the discovery of sex addiction, the roses wilt. Some people don’t like their escapes to remind them of real life. I totally get that.

But I also like to portray strong, growing people. We don’t grow as much when things are easy, even though those are the times we long for. But as with Walt’s dream of security for his family, our good times often come at a cost. Putting a vacation or a big Christmas on a credit card. Not exercising and making healthy food choices on a regular basis. Fun at the time, but at a price to be paid later.

We don’t pick up book and go to movies to see people happy all the time. Happy doesn’t make for interesting  entertainment for some reason. In my writer’s mind, I think up all kinds of things my characters do when life is going well for them. But it would be boring to read page after page or to watch scene after scene of quiet conversations and candlelight dinners.

It’s an interesting phenomenon to me and one I don’t expect to resolve. So, I’ll keep watching Breaking Bad for the entertainment value and the motivation to sock my characters with conflict every chance I get.

As a writer, do you find yourself saving your characters from pain by writing an easier resolution to their problems? Do you have a “won’t go there” line you won’t let your characters cross? Have you watched Breaking Bad? What do you think of it.

If you watch BrBa, here’s a little something



Congratulations on Giving Birth…to Your Novel.


Congratulations on you baby–er–book!

Today is November 30th and novelists everywhere are pushing the last parts of their hearts and souls into the world. Many of you are first timers and experienced the joy and exhilaration and frustration and pangs of childbirth–er–novel writing.

Birth is often a metaphor for writing–you take a few little seeds and after time and work you have something like a baby, or a book. And when you actually complete the thing and hold the baby or type THE END, you say, “Now what do I do with you?”

Well, with a book, you don’t have to worry about feeding it or changing diapers (thank God) although there are definite elements of stink any self-respecting writer will fix before letting others read it.

What follows is a list of reliable books and websites to help new authors find a place to begin to revise, rewrite and edit. In other words, bring up baby.


On Writing by Stephen King–basically his writing biography then how he writes. Very good and very popular.

Plot and Structure by James Bell

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee–this tome is dense and not for everybody, but it delves into the psychology of good writing and is a great resource for novelists, too.

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder–also about screenwriting, but the structure elements are helpful for novelists.

There are plenty more out there, but I’ve read these and consistently see them on lists by other writers.

You should also have a decent dictionary and thesaurus, the paper kind which you can probably find at used bookstores. They have some advantages over online resources, which also have their advantages.


Writer’s Digest This is a super resource. I suggest you sign up for the newsletter which is very informational. They like to sell a lot of things so if you like to buy, great! You might find better prices on some things at Amazon, but it’s a super place to begin working your way into the WWW for writing resources.

Writer Unboxed This is a blog written by various authors and is really good, encouraging and friendly.

Once you visit these places a few times you’ll be well on your way down the writer’s Internet rabbit trail. As you find sites you like, bookmark them, subscribe to newsletters, like on FB and follow on Twitter. There is tons out there for writers. Some will become repetitive, but there are always ways for every writer to improver her craft.

Find your favorite authors on line. Many have blogs about writing.

But beware, like parents, people will try to sell you all kinds of things you and baby don’t really need when the important thing is spending time loving your baby, uh, novel by working on it and learning the craft of writing. You don’t need everything out there. As you grow as a writer, you’ll figure out what’s worth your time and money.

The last thing book parents can do for baby is to find other parents/writers and meet to compare notes and just talk about writing. Critique groups are great for this. Meetup will have lots of listings for writers in your area. Hanging out at coffee shops might help, too. I’ve found that writers are amazingly helpful toward one another.

As you come across information on publishing, cast a glance that way from time to time, if that is your ultimate goal. It’s a big, confusing and changing arena right now and learning about it over time will help you decide when and how to publish and will prevent you from making some newbie mistakes–maybe not all of them, but some.

Have fun with your new baby!

Do you have great resources for writers? Add them in the comments,please!

Not Selling Books Is a Lot of Work!


And it’s not like I’m not trying. It just ain’t happening. Yet.

I always have a long (mental) to do list of what I should try/learn/do.

Recently I accomplished:

Newsletter sign-up form for my website. It wasn’t too hard, but took some research and figuring out because I can never seem to get something right off the bat the first time.

Went to a writer’s workshop-all day. That involved finding the place–always a challenge for me to find a new place in Scottsdale. And meeting entirely new people–which I did, and wondering if I would end up eating lunch alone–which I didn’t.

Reset the theme of my blog/website.

What else I think I should/need/can do:

Add buttons to website where my book can be purchased on different websites where it is available.

Work on deep edits to Another Place…

Decide whether to query an agent, which case I have to:

Research agents specific to my genre

Formulate perfect query letters specifically to the requirement of each agent which includes a synopsis of a certain amount of pages (varies), a few hook paragraphs to get the agent to believe this is the best thing to cross their desk all year, a bio (which I need to redo) and a few other things.

OR should I keep going indie?

Decide about book covers (again) in case that’s why I’m not getting sales (who knows?)

Keep working on Potholes, my newest novel.

Begin revising/rewriting Places Bright and Dark (Lilyland 2)

Begin writing Lilyland 3.

Find a way to get involved with several author or writer/author communities I joined.

Decide the most effective way to spend the little budget I’m allotting to promotion.

And a lot of other things.

Someone recently commented that I live in a fantasy world. If I believed that, I wouldn’t have to work so hard. I live in a business world where I am trying to sell a carefully and lovingly crafted product that is but one in a vast ocean of like products in an industry that is in flux and confused. I’m not a business person by nature. But along with all the technology that goes into indie publishing, I have to learn business, too.

But I have to believe in myself, my skill, my stories. I have to keep improving at everything. It’s easy to get discouraged when I don’t see books selling and when I’m not making any money. When all I can be seen doing is wearing out the keyboard of my laptop.

But I’ve spent years at jobs that ended unhappily. This is the hard work I’d rather be doing.