My Reading Year in Review

I’ve been doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge for the last two years. I set my goal at 20 books each year. I only made it to 17 in 2014. I got bogged down in a long “bestseller” and an equally long “award winner” that I might have been able to finish had they both better content editing. I did exceed my goal for 2015 by 2.68 books, though. I’m a slow reader (Michael Fassbender admits to being a slow reader, too. *sigh*) so I don’t set lofty goals.

My non-scientific and random review methods based on the fact I’m a writer, I get moody and other things that may vary day to day.

***** So compelling I’m willing to not do things I love (like write and sleep) to keep reading.

**** The characters are compelling or the story so interesting they follow me around until I can read again.

*** Good enough I’ll keep reading, maybe for enjoyment or maybe another reason.

** Gave it a good try, but probably won’t finish.

* WTF?

My ***** for 2015

  • The Lady of Lakewood Diner by Anne R. Allen. I believe Ms. Allen is an indie author. If you grew up around or are interested in the 1960s, you’ll especially enjoy this.
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer. I’m not a big fan of things about World War II, but the characters and the prose are stunning.
  • The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. A library book sale big time score! Loved everything about this book.
  • Horse and Buggy Mennonites by Donald B. Kraybill and James P. Hurd. Nonfiction research for Zook’s Corner. A readable interesting detailed account of Old Order Mennonites in Lancaster County, PA.

The lowest I gave was a *** to The Outcast by Jolina Petershiem. I think I was feeling generous that day.

Everything else received solid ****.

An L.A. writer runs to Maine and meets an odd little girl. Literary fiction.

Sometimes I inadvertantly pick up books around the same time with the same settings or themes. In 2015 I read At The Water’s Edge right before All the Light We Cannot See, both WWII settings. Then both set in Seattle were Safe with Me and Firefly Lane. The Robber Bride is set in Toronto (which I’ve actually had the pleasure of visiting) and something else was Toronto based in my life then…maybe a movie?

I think the most disappointing was The Girl on the Train. Wildly popular and I got it for cheap on Kindle. It was a great read until the ending which was just “meh.” In my opinion. You may think it’s brilliant.

I did abandon a book, Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. It’s YA. I found the first person over-obsessing of a guy by a teenage girl annoying. Not a bad book and I have some questions that won’t get answered because I don’t like the voice, but just not for me.

Maybe if you click here, you’ll go to my Goodread page of my 2015 books. If not, sorry. If so, click on the book if you’re interested in my rating/review.

Lined up for 2016, I have The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. First I have to After the Rising by Orna Ross, whose Blue Mercy I really enjoyed in 2014. I think I’ll keep my goal at 20 books. It’s always feels better to exceed a goal than to not meet one.

What was your favorite book in 2015? Anything on your reading agenda for the New Year?

Note: Thumbnails are of other books I read in 2015 by indie authors (except Everything I Never Told You isn’t indie.)

 

Advertisements

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:

Capture

 

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!

 

The Hardest Part

publish button

It’s a lot of work to get your novel to this point, but for indie author’s, you’re only half done.

Hard: I wrote a novel, Another Place on the Planet. I won’t go into all the ways life tried to get in the way of that. I amazed some people, including myself. It has all the elements of a story, including great characters, a page turning (at times, anyway) plot, and some themes that resonate with readers. I learned a great deal about the craft of writing and myself. It was a great joy and a great trial. And I’m doing it again. Harder: Publishing my novel. I submitted to a few agents, mostly for the experience because I know a story of Christians behaving at times very unlike Christians are supposed to behave is not going to fly in regular publishing and certainly not traditional Christian publishing. So, indie publishing was a great option. A whole bunch more learning there. Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace, editing, formatting, Word v. Scrivener. Learning what I don’t know so I can learn it just to know I need to learn something else. Good thing I like learning. And I did it! And, I hope to do it again. Hopefully, it’ll be easier this time. Hardest: Promotion. Marketing. Discovery. I published a book! Who cares? It got some good reviews from mostly people I know somehow. They want book 2! Awesome! How do I get other readers to read number 1? That’s the hardest part, I think. I’m getting a little better at putting myself out there, grabbing opportunities that come my way online. I responded to someone looking to interview author’s on their quest to market their book. I booked myself on a blog in the UK for next week, and set my book to go free for  few days. I’m looking for ways to advertise with the small budget I have. It’s a long term kind of thing. Most indie authors build readership book by book over time. All this marketing stuff takes away from my writing time to get those books out there. As does the editing and publishing process. I love writing. I’ve been making up stories in my head for most of my life, so it’s only natural I put them on paper or little screens. I love, to one degree or the other, the entire revising-editing-formatting-publishing process. I enjoy making new connections in the world of indie publishing. I love each time I sell a book and read a new review and know I entertained someone. I’ll love when I get some royalties in my Pay Pal account! The really hard part will be staying the course, not giving up when there are no sales, no new reviews. That’s the thing for anyone pursuing their passion. Believing in your work enough to see it through the dry spells. Sometimes, that’s the hardest part.

Get Ready!

Drum Roll, please! (Keep it going until my book is live on Kindle.) Thanks!

Good grief. The trials of a truly indie author. By truly indie, I mean too poor to be able to afford editors, formatters, etc. Not that I’m complaining. Being able to do all this is a joy and privilege I never expected to have.APP sunset cover

Last year, I decided to republish my fist book, Another Place on the Planet. I hadn’t sold one in a while and was never really satisfied with the cover and knew of some issues that needed to be fixed. In the meantime, my mother passed away and my husband was diagnosed and then successfully treated for cancer. My brain just wasn’t in the place to do the technical side of things.

I worked on other projects, finishing up book 2 of LIlyland, then doing the rough draft of book 3. Then I spent weeks and months on Word and Scrivener perfecting formatting to the best of my ability only to have it look less than wonderful when Kindle got a hold of it. I designed a new cover.

There are people who do these kinds of things for indie writers and I hope in the future to be able to afford them so I can spend more time writing. I also hope that next time I make a cover or format a manuscript I can remember what I learned during the previous bouts of learning. I like learning and don’t mind the kind of work that needs to be done, but…

So, as I write this, Kindle is in the process of publishing my book. I hope the margins and paragraph indentations are as pretty as I made them in the writing program. They weren’t last time…sigh.

In the meantime, I can update Pinterest, post some tweets, figure out how to use Google+ and network with other writers. Oh. And write the other books.

I’ll post a link in the sidebar to Kindle when I have it all prettified. While you wait, you can read the first chapter here under the My Books tab.

Writing and publishing independent of traditional publishing is perfect for me. Lilyland probably wouldn’t have a home otherwise. It’s the story of Lily, and secondly Charlie who are believers in God and Jesus, aka Christians, but struggle a lot with their faith and their behavior. It’s probably too Christian for regular publishers and not Christian enough for Christian publishers, what with the sex and swearing that even they themselves do. But it’s the story that came out. I like it. I hope you do, too.