Light Year High Club

Challenge Day 3

Lots of dictation today! It was gorgeous out. Bright sun, no rain, and not too much wind. I got in a bunch of good walks, and 5104 new words, which is another step forward. Made 16,920 steps, which is great. I’m way ahead there.

I need to wrap this book up within seven more days, which might be a challenge. But I have fans dying to get their hands on it! The title I’m working on a tentatively titled “Boldly Go”, and it is the eleventh book in the Starship Satori series. It’s the set of books my readers seem to enjoy most, so I want to get it finished and out to them as quickly as I can.

What about after that?

There are nine other books I need to write this summer, after all! Well, two of them will be to complete a trilogy. The first book from that series is already done but not released. The plan will be to rapid release the entire trilogy in short order. I’m producing those books with LMBPN Publishing, what will be the first of hopefully many joint ventures.

The other seven books? I want to write “Ghost Fleet” to finish that sequence, and I need to get the fifth and final Valhalla Online book done as well.

Book 12 of the Satori series has to be on the list, too. It’s going to be called “Warrior’s Marque”, and brings Andrew Wakefield into the spotlight for the first time.

That still leaves four more books! At least one of them will be a nonfiction book for writers. Maybe two. The other two books? Maybe another book from one of the Dragon Earth series? Or another Satori novel? I’m not sure yet.

If you read my books, what would you like to see next? Let me know. Above all else, I’m here for my readers, to tell them stories they’ll love.

Challenge Day 2

Challenge Day 2

Today was a bit more challenging. I ran smack into the great foe of outdoor dictation: rain.

Well, first it was wind, and lot of it. The breeze grew strong enough that it disrupted Dragon Anywhere’s ability to translate my words effectively. Then the rain started up. Not a huge downpour, but it was enough to get annoying.

Not to be deterred by something as mundane as a rainstorm, I moved my work inside the Prudential Mall. This wasn’t much better than outside, to be honest. The crowds there made dictation as challenging as the rain. Despite that, I carried on and still managed about 4800 words. I’ll need to pick up the pace some as I go along, but I’m continuing to improve at my words per minute.

Speed will come with the and practice.

It’s been nice seeing all the responses to my first video about the challenge. Everyone has been incredibly supportive. Thank you!

Oh, and I made 16,842 steps. I’m getting ahead on the walking, at least!

One Hundred Days, Ten Books, And One Million Steps!

Day One

I should preface this writing by placing the blame (or credit, depending on how you look at it) squarely where it belongs: on the shoulders of Dean Wesley Smith. After all, it was he who first gave me the idea of using a challenge as a tool to drive myself toward improvement.

It’s Dean who showed me how darn much fun these challenges can be, too. And finally, it was also Dean who (as far as I know) first came up with the crazy, dumb, ridiculous, and insanely fun idea of writing ten books in one hundred days. As of this writing, he hasn’t done the challenge set, but he will be later in 2019.

That said, taking his challenge and ramping it up another notch is entirely my own fault. There’s a very old Chinese saying that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It’s a terrific proverb, with deep wisdom which is both obvious to a child yet still holds great value all through our lives. The journey I’m embarking upon isn’t a thousand miles. According to my Apple Watch, it takes about two thousand steps for me to walk a mile, so I’ll only be walking five hundred miles. But that voyage also begins with just one step.

I’ve done challenges before. I find them to be a good tool to help me stretch my perception of what it’s possible for me to achieve. Pushing myself is good for my growth. setting goals which match only my abilities doesn’t encourage growth or excellence. But goals which match my potential do both.

I talked about trying the ‘ten books in one hundred days’ challenge back at 20Books Vegas 2018. It sounded a little nuts. Michael Anderle and I went over the idea some and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth the headaches.

What changed my mind? I’ve gotten better at writing. Faster. More organized. I still have much to learn (thank goodness), but I feel more able than ever to take on a serious challenge and win through to success. Why add the million steps to an already difficult challenge? That’s a great question.

It was the idea of adding the new element which finally made me decide to go for this, actually. One of the biggest challenges writers face is the sedentary nature of our work. We sit – usually inside – while we write. Getting in high word counts and also exercising can be a real problem for many writers, myself included. I’m still in pretty good shape for 46, but I could see my fitness deteriorate over time.

Stepping up my fitness game was an obvious priority. I’d been trying on and off through the years to work with dictation software for my writing, generally without much success. But I recalled Kevin Anderson blogging years ago about how he wrote books by taking long walks through the hills speaking his story into a recorder.

Nervous that it wouldn’t work well in noisy downtown Boston, I figured I would give it a shot anyway. I bought a new cardioid microphone for my iPhone and gave it a try. The results weren’t perfect, but they were good enough that I grew really excited about the challenge idea!

I was writing more slowly than I was used to, but much of that felt like my fault instead of tech problems. What if I could couple high speed writing and walking for fitness? The challenge was born: 100 days, 10 books, and 1,000,000 steps. That meant averaging at least ten thousand step and six thousand words a day. Partnering my goals together in this manner just feels right.

So we’re off and running! Or walking. Day 1 was May 9th. The final day will be August 16th. The first day went well, with about 4500 words and 19,198 steps. A little ahead on one target and behind on the other, but I am already seeing improvements in my dictation speed, so I anticipate more gains in word court as I go along.

Thank you for reading! I will continue posting regular updates, and you’re welcome to follow along as I try to do this crazy, fun, game-changing challenge!

The Pursuit of Happiness

A writer recently asked an interesting question. I’m paraphrasing, but the general idea was this: “Do you believe that the prerequisite for success as an author is to write X words every year, where X is a very large number?”

My answer was: No, I’d disagree strongly with that statement for several reasons.

1) There are (rare, but existent) authors who produce just one book a year and make a full-time living.
2) I’d have to know how big “X” was, which in this case is sorta like asking “how long is a piece of string?”
3) We all define success differently. My idea of success almost certainly won’t be the same as the person sitting next to me, and *neither of us are wrong* if striving toward our personal goals is making us happy.

All that said, I think there’s a lot to be said for a strong work ethic in whatever profession we choose to work. I work for myself these days, but I spent a lot of time in other careers. The last one before ‘novelist’ was nursing.

As a nurse, if I didn’t show up for work when I was supposed to, I didn’t get paid. In writing, if I don’t show up to write new words when I am supposed to, I don’t get paid.

In nursing, I could generally pick how many hours I wanted to work. Everyone was thrilled to let me work sixty hours a week. They were also OK with letting me eventually drop down as low as twenty-four hours a week as I slowly phased from that career to writing full-time. When I was working 24 hours a week, I earned about half what I did when I was working 50 hours a week; this ought to suprise no one.

The same is generally true of writing. Whatever amount I make from writing new words, if I double the hours I spend doing it I am, generally speaking, going to double (or more) my income.

But what if I was HAPPY at the income level I was making while working 24 hours a week as a nurse? What if I had set up my life so that was enough money to feel successful, and I was enjoying the rest of my free time?

Well, that’s success, too. Same goes for writing. Nobody says you HAVE to make six-figures a year as a writer to feel like a success. We get to define what we see as financial and career success. We get to pick whether we want it to be a main career or a side-career. We’re all going to see our own vision of success – and again, *none of us are wrong*.

But there’s another aspect to all of this.

If I was working as a nurse and started goofing off at work, not doing everything I was supposed to, showing up late or not bothering to show up at all – I’d get fired. Now, nobody gets to fire us as writer/publishers anymore. Instead our income drops, which has a similar impact on our checking accounts.

Just as important: when our actions do not accurately match our aspirations, unhappiness occurs.

Human beings tend to be happiest when our goals/ideals/aspirations match our actions as closely as possible. For example, if I say I want to be a full-time writer, but spend most of each day playing video games instead, I’m setting myself up to be unhappy. (Ask me how I know…) I’m not aligning my actions with my aspirations.

I wouldn’t expect to make a full-time salary as a nurse or any other profession working just four hours a week. Yet at the sedate writing pace of 1000 words per hour, four hours a week is 200,000 words a year, or 2-4 novels. (Yes, we have research, going over edits, marketing, etc., but those should never collectively be more than half our time. They’re like the emails, meetings, and other time-sinks at work that slow productivity rather than fueling it.)

Just imagine what would happen if I sat down to write ten hours a week (working 5-10 more on the “other stuff”). That’s 500,000 words a year, at the modest 1000 word/hr pace. What happens when I get better at this and slowly improve my words per hour? (I write new words at an average of about 2500 words/hour right now; when I started out as a novice, I was about 1200 words/hr. Like most things about writing, this is something which improves with practice.)

Wow.

OK, what happens if I really go full-time, and write 20 hours a week (spending another 20 on the “other stuff”)? Now I’m writing a million words a year at the slow, sedate pace of 1000 words/hour, or as much as 2.5 million if I can maintain 2500 words/hour. I know folks who average 4-5k words per hour via dictation.

That doesn’t mean I think I need to write 5 million words a year to be a success. 🙂

It DOES mean that it’s possible to do so.

Would I be happier if I did that? I don’t know. It would mean taking less trips and vacations. It would mean less time with my kids. Right now, I can afford the luxury of working at a fraction of that theoretical maximum and still make enough to greatly enjoy life. I’m good with this.

That doesn’t mean the person who strives for more than that is wrong. Nor am I. Nor is someone else whose personal goal for writing isn’t as big as mine. Provided we’re all happy, and we’re all putting in an appropriate amount of effort to achieve our goals, it’s all good.

Where things tend to fall apart is when we don’t allocate enough effort to ahieve whatever our goals are. This is where frustration, disappointment, and disillusionment come into play. And the answer is almost always to right-size things. If our actions and aspirations are out of alignment, one of them needs to change. Either we need to increase action or decrease expectations, if we want to improve happiness.

At the end of the day, happiness is tied to seeing our needs met, and one of those needs is self—actualization. Most human beings need to feel like we are doing or creating something worthwhile which requires us to use our mind and skills maximally if we want to be happy.

We get to decide what that looks like. But once we do, our happiness hinges on applying the appropriate amount of work to attain those goals, whatever they might be.

We’re About To See Another Indie Author Shakeout

We’re about to see another major shakeout in the indie writer world.

The first one happened around 2012 through 2013. Two factors contributed. The most obvious was KDP Select, which created a massive surge for writers who participated, at great cost to those who didn’t. Free books lost a ton of ground, which dried up a major tool.

But the other factor in 2012 was that for the first time there were so many good indie books that quality began to matter a lot more – not just in writing, but in presentation as well. In 2010 an author could throw up even a mediocre book with mediocre cover art and blurb and sell OK, possibly even sell really well. As more books hit the market and competition increased, this was no longer viable in most cases, and a ton of authors dropped out.

We saw the second major dropout in 2015, with KDP Select 2.0. Authors who had built their entire system of publishing around producing a ton of short works suddenly found themselves paid 25c a read instead of $1.80 a download. This swept the field of a ton of people.

Worse yet, it was around 2015/2016 that the continued increase in quality hit the point where a book needed to pretty much look like it belonged on the shelves of a B&N (in terms of quality, not specific design, since everyone knew about designing for thumbnail by then). Inferior covers and blurbs still sometimes worked (and continue to occasionally work today, although less well each year), but it got harder. Lots of writers left.

This was the field that Michael Anderle and the ongoing group that formed into 20Booksto50k joined up in. It was a field that was highly competitive, but if you were producing GOOD work FAST, with GOOD or better covers and blurbs, you were still able to sell. Advertising started coming into play in a serious way around 2016. Mark Dawson was teaching Facebook ads in 2015, and they were starting to catch on. AMS ads followed close behind.

Where we are at now…

2018 was the beginning of the end of ‘easy mode’. As of 2019, it will become very difficult to maintain a full-time income by JUST writing fast, publishing fast, good content, with good covers and blurbs.

All of that is the basic bar for even minimal success, now.

Authors are now competing with a pool of closing on 6 million ebooks. Yes, a lot of those are bad or mediocre books, and many have horrible covers, and lots are not marketed at all anymore. But there have never been this many GOOD, *well-written*, well-edited books with excellent cover art and blurbs available at the same time before.

Ever.

In all of human history.

I feel like the keyword for 2019 is ‘visibility’. And the main way to reach people today is via advertising. That might be pushing books through lists like Bookbub or BargainBooksy. It might mean joining a ton of joint promos with other authors. It could mean using giveaways and other marketing to boost an email list up into the high five-figure or low six-figure range, and then working overtime to make sure those fans are engaged.

But advertising is now key. Just like some folks succeeded with crappy covers and blurbs in 2016, some people will make it without ads today. But it’s no longer *reliable* to do so.

Indies who don’t understand marketing need to learn. Now. Today. This is *the* key skill of 2019, more than it has been in the little over a decade that indie publishing has blossomed in.

Most of the writers who can’t or won’t learn this stuff will be gone by the end of 2020, moved on to other things.

The competition is intense. But so is the cooperation. We have more writers *helping* each other than ever before, too. Because as much as our books are competing, it’s also clear that the more we help each other, the more we help ourselves as well.

Will the real “Write to Market” PLEASE stand up? Or – why you’re probably doing it wrong.

EDIT: I’ve been informed that the debate this post responds to did not start out as civil as it appears now and that John’s blog article was edited before I read it. I do not in any way condone personal attacks on another author. Aside from being bad form in general, in this case, it’s tragic, since if John had actually read Chris’s book before posting, he would have known that he agreed with all of the major points Chris espouses. I’m glad John toned down his post. I hope he actually picks up a copy of the book and reads it because he’s attacking someone who is on the same side.

 

Well, the last few days have been interesting. I’ve seen two writers go to war with each other while both of them are basically saying the same thing. The reason for the confusion? Confusion over the terms they are using. John Hartness’s post is attacking Chris Fox’s “Write to Market” book without actually understanding what is meant by “write to market”.

Ever been in a room where two people are debating the same side of the argument and neither of them realize it? Yeah. That. 🙂

John launched an all-out-assault on the idea of “Write to Market” on his blog recently. Chris responded in the comments, and then wrote his own blog in response. I’ve read them both. Guys, you’re on the same side.

First off, what IS writing to market? It’s important to first define what it is NOT.

Writing to market does not mean identifying the hot new trend and then writing that book. This is where a ton of the confusion around the term comes from, because Chris talked in his book “Write to Market” about assessing the hot titles in a genre, finding the common tropes, and then writing a book which used those common tropes.

That’s not writing to market. That’s writing to trend.

Writing to market means analyzing a given market of readers and learning, on a deep level, what those readers long to read in a story. It means understanding the underlying structure and form of the stories they love – and why those structures worked, why those forms mattered. It means learning what that market wants from a book – and then giving them that.

Chris and I have chatted about his “Write to Market” book in the past. He’s even mentioned maybe revising it someday. Where it probably is most misunderstood is in the examples he used. He studied several military SF books and found common tropes: old captain, broken down ship, hopelessly overpowered alien menace. He listed those tropes and then wrote a series similar to that, and it worked. But it didn’t work because of the specific tropes; it worked because it hit the right underlying themes.

The actual themes? Protagonist with color, flavor, and a backstory that is interesting. Protagonist has a weak starting position (be it old ship, or tiny ship, or merchant ship with no guns). Antagonist operating on a power level dramatically higher than the protagonist.

It’s not about the old captain or decrepit ship. It’s about the underlying themes, and some readers have missed that point.

Example: Lindsay Buroker’s excellent “Star Nomad” is almost beat for beat the same book as Chris Fox’s “Destroyer”. Except hers has a young female captain who’s a mom. Who’s flying an old and broken down merchant vessel instead of an old military vessel. The bad guys aren’t aliens, they’re humans. But it’s close to the same story in the structure – because it’s the colorful, interesting, well-crafted protagonist we love. It’s the underdog beating off the impossible foe that we like to see. This isn’t a new theme; it’s old as time. Chris wrote a great version of it. So did Lindsay.

In both cases, the books worked because the writers displayed a deep understanding of what readers wanted in that sort of story.

THAT is writing to market.

John lists these things as tenets of “writing to market”:
– Finding a hot genre to write in

– Forgoing editing

– Using a good cover and storytelling to overcome craft flaws

These ideas are the antithesis of writing to market. Except for the bit about a good cover and good storytelling, because those are useful for any book. It’s not about a hot genre; it’s about understanding the genre you choose to write in on a deep level. It’s not about forgoing editing (that’s another matter entirely, and maybe I’ll write an essay on how editing is changing at a later date). Some write to market folks have a zillion paid editing passes, others do less. However a given writer is able to create quality work is fine.

Chris rebuts with this:

#1- Pick a genre that you absolutely love (mine include fantasy, SF, horror, and thrillers)
#2- Determine that the genre has enough readership to earn you a living
#3- Write great books in that genre, which requires you to have
excellent craft. Get those books out quickly.

Which is good, as a partial list. But I feel like he misses a few key points as well. His list glosses over the need to understand why readers are reading the books they are, and why they pass on others. Why certain books go viral through word of mouth and others don’t. (I suspect he’s thinking of that being included in the #3 tenet, but I feel like it warrants more words.) It’s also less about speed, I think, and more about understanding. When you grasp the underlying reasons why readers love certain stories, speed matters less.

Here’s my shot over the bow at a set of writing to market tenets.

1. Pick a market that you’d like to write in, that sufficient numbers of people read.

2. Analyze and assess the books that are doing well there – not just the recent releases, but those which have stood the test of time. What themes are common? What types of voice and structure work? What are readers in that genre looking for from a story?

3. Once you have a deep grasp of the sort of story readers in that genre are seeking, write that…but different. Don’t clone an existing story. Don’t follow the tropes; follow the themes and structure types. Does that genre favor “buddy love” type premises? Perhaps writing that would be a good idea, then. Do we see hero’s journey style structures popping up a lot? Brush off your copy of “The Writer’s Journey” by Vogler and refresh your memory. It’s not about the specific tropes; it’s about the theme and structure.

4. Write the best book you can, producing the best final product you can, using whatever set of tools and methods you favor. Yes, a great cover is incredibly important. So is good storytelling. Good storytelling means understanding #2 and #3 above. Some writers may manage that by intuition, but you can also acquire that knowledge through study.

Repeat the process as often as you’re able. Writing more books means gaining more readers and earning more income; we all know that, but it has nothing at all to do with writing to market. It’s just common sense: if a book makes you about $5000, then writing ten of them makes you about twice as much as writing five. (Plus, speed helps make you more visible on the retailer sites.) But *never* replace quality with speed. That’s against the very core of writing to market – which ultimately is about giving the reader what they want. Which is never a poor quality book.

Writing to market is seen by some writers as a panacea, and by others as a race to the bottom in terms of quality. The truth is? It’s neither.

Writing to market is about learning the psychology of readers, about understanding why they read and what they want to get out of reading. It’s not a panacea because like most elements of craft it is ongoing. We’re never going to know everything there is to know about why a given set of readers loved a certain novel. It’s a process, not a final stage.

Writing to market is also only tangentially related to writing to trends – which as I mentioned above is the chasing of whatever is currently “hot”. (You can actually do both: chase the hot trend and attempt to understand the market by analyzing why great books within that trend are great. Some writers do tremendous things with this method.)

If a book is beloved by readers, odds are that it was written to market. It might have been accidentally or intuitively written to market – but it most likely was. Readers don’t read books that don’t resonate with their reasons for wanting to read. They certainly don’t *love*, re-read, and recommend to friends books which don’t hit the right buttons for them. If you’re not writing to market, you’re probably never going to have fans who follow you from book to book.

But odds are, like John and Chris, you’re already doing this without realizing it. 🙂

How to Break in as a New Author Today?

I had someone ask that question in a Facebook group I’m in, earlier today. Here was the advice I gave. It’s not new advice. It’s old, but still sound and solid. Check it out:

The steps haven’t really changed. They’re still the same as they were when Michael Anderle took off, a year and a half ago.

Step 1: Imagine a Venn diagram, with two circles. One circle is things that people like to read. The other circle is things you like to write. Where they overlap? Write that.

Step 2: When picking your genre, be prepared to write at LEAST six books in that specific sub-genre before moving on. If you move on that early – move to a closely related genre. For example, writing six space opera books and moving to military SF is fine. Moving from SO to epic fantasy is likely going to damage your brand and slow your growth. There are tons of exceptions to this, authors who have crossed genres and killed it anyway. They did that *in spite of* the cross genre work. You maximize your success by building a brand within a single type of book. Expand later, after you have a dozen or more books out.

Step 3: Write a great story that people want to read. To do this, you need a deep understanding of plot structure (or you need to get very lucky). Study structure and form. Understand the Hero’s Journey. Read McKee and “Save the Cat” and Libbie Hawker and every other major type of plotting and structure tool. Study them, especially the renowned ones that have stood the test of time. YES, even if you are a “pantser”; in fact, it’s even MORE crucial that pantsers grok plot and structure, since they’re flying by the seat of their pants and need an intuitive understanding of those things.

Step 4: Get a great, GENRE SPECIFIC cover for the book. The one, primary thing every cover must do is tell any prospective reader precisely what sort of book this is. Ideally, it should look a lot like bestselling books in your sub-sub-sub-genre. You want a cover that tells the readers immediately what they are getting, with no questions or doubts.

Step 5: Publish. Then market. Your job as publisher is first to put out a top quality product (well edited however you make that happen, with a great cover and good blurb). Then it’s to get eyes on that product. That’s all the book is, once you upload it: it is a product that you must show to potential consumers to get them to buy it. Facebook ads, AMS ads, Twitter ads, Adsense, and anything else you can think of. Drive readers to that book page in enough numbers, with good enough targeting, and you will move copies.

Step 6: While you’re marketing, be writing. Same genre. Same series. Get more books out. What I am seeing today is four books a year is the bare minimum to have a decent shot at financial/career success. Less than that and you’re losing momentum too fast. The good news? Four books at 75k words each is only about 800 words per day. You can pound that out on lunch breaks, if you want this badly enough. If you don’t want it badly enough, you won’t do the work and it won’t happen.

The question will usually come down to this one: how hungry are you?

The people who work the hardest are generally the ones who are succeeding the best. They’re not always the best writers. Nor are they always the best marketers or publishers. But over time, the simple application of effort has a multiplicative impact on one’s march toward success.

The Writing Advice Not Taken

Also known as “The writing advice I wish I’d had in 2011.”
I ran into someone on a Facebook group today, asking for help. This person had a bunch of books out, and none of them were selling. I went and analyzed the writer’s work, and recognized a familiar set of problems. The writer was doing a bunch of things wrong – most of them, the same things *I* messed up, early on. Hey, these are easy mistakes to make. There’s no guidebook. (Well, there are, but the advice is often conflicting and confusing.)

After assessing the writer’s work, I wrote a reply. It was a public group, and a lot of people wrote nice replies offering counsel. I wrote a veritable essay. Not shocking for those who know me! I’m a writer – I saw someone in trouble, facing a lot of the problems I had to overcome the hard way. I wanted to help. The writer turned down my advice, which is sad, but some people have to go their own path and learn in their own way. That’s certainly how I managed it.

But a number of other writers suggested I save the essay anyway, as it had a lot of value for other people as well. Here’s the essay, for posterity. If you’re a struggling newer writer in this crazy modern era of publishing, give it a read. You might be facing none of these issues, or all of them. But if there’s even one bit in there which might help you, I’ll be happy. Not ALL of the advice below is going to be correct for EVERY writer, mind you! Read it through the lens of your own experience and situation.

I’ll pitch in a little here. This is going to sound harsh, some of it.

You’re making all of the classic blunders. Welcome to my world.  I did the same thing – made most of the SAME mistakes that you are making. As a result, I made virtually nothing from my writing for five straight years of publishing.

I have cleared four figures a month every month since last August. I did so by turning things around. By not making the same mistakes. You can too.

1. Classic Blunder One
You’re ALL OVER THE PLACE in genres. You have mysteries, urban fantasy, and science fiction. Stop that shit now. PICK A GENRE. ANY GENRE. Now write your next 10-12 books in that genre alone. No hopping around. Just do the work.

2. Classic Blunder Two
Your covers suck. With the exception of the mystery covers, which more or less meet the minimum standards for the genre, your covers range from badly targeted (the UF cover looks like a middle-grade novel) to horrible (the SF covers just need to go) to no cover at all (why do half your books have a blank white page?). Study the genre you pick, and make your cover look as close to the bestsellers in that genre AND sub-genre as possible.

3. Classic Blunder Three
Too many series. Stop. Write ONE series until the series is done. Make that series at least three books long. Ideally, make it 6+ books long. Again, you’re all over the place and this is killing any hope of building momentum.

4. Classic Blunder Four
You are overpricing your books. Drop your prices to $2.99. Yes, there is a difference between $2.99 and $3.99. You are a new writer. You want people to take a chance on you. Dropping price early on will help. Raise them later when you’re better known. Once you have the third or fourth book out in a series, drop book one to 99c as a loss leader.

Less Obvious and Less Classic Issues:

– You’re misusing Instafreebie. There are two ways to drive traffic to your IF books. You need to either run Facebook ads targeting your target market which send people to the IF book – OR – you need to join group promotions *which target your genre*. You should be getting about 500-1000 new subscribers a month just from joint promos. If you’re not doing that, join more joint promos until you are. These leads are not the best; you will need to offer them samples of your writing to hook them. But they can be hooked. Again, part of maximizing IF use and even mailing list use in general is STICKING TO ONE GENRE. If your reader signed up for police mysteries, and you send them a SF book, they’re going to unsubscribe.

– Your blurbs need help. Your blurbs are too short. Well written, but not enough meat there. THIS IS WHERE YOU CONVINCE THEM TO BUY. You need to sell the book with the blurb. Really key.

– Edit to add: You’re also not publishing fast enough. Two books a year will result in a VERY slow build even if you follow the guidelines above. Bump up your speed to four+. Write the next book. Nothing matters more than the next book. Write in one genre, in a series, and get the next book done and out to readers. THIS IS A MOMENTUM GAME. You’re either BUILDING momentum, or you are losing it. ALWAYS. Write in a new genre? You’re building momentum there, but not where you were building it, so you’re likely LOSING momentum there unless you’re writing a book a month.

Accord of Valor is out! Final Accord series book hits the store!

Whew! Not a lot to add about this one. Folks have been waiting on this for about a year now, and the book is finally available. This story finishes the tale of Nicholas Stein and his son Thomas as they fight for independence of Mars from the hegemony of the United Nations of Earth. But there are deeper secrets involved than either of them know, and once again the fate of humanity will rest in their hands.
Grab a copy today! : https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XZPSR6B

 

Kevin McLaughlin is a USA Today bestselling novelist of science fiction and fantasy. An infantry veteran and nurse, swordsman and scientist, father and traveler, he brings all his experiences to bear on creating astounding stories for his readers.