For a while this year, I took a break from writing. The actual act of writing is something I enjoy, and have for years. But the marketing side of things can get me down. At the beginning of this year, I did a lot of work trying to get my books out there and, admittedly, I made a few more sales than I had in the previous few years.
However, while I had a small spike in sales, they soon trickled off again and it was difficult to keep motivated.
I also stopped my newsletter for readers around that time, though for different reasons. As I went through my inbox one day, unsubscribing from a myriad of things to tidy it up and free up my time, I thought perhaps that email newsletters might not be the way of the future.
Finally, I moved all my books on Amazon’s KDP store out of the teen and young adult category. They were doing okay there for a while but there were signs that this wasn’t most of my target audience hung out.
I don’t know if stopping the newsletter was a good or bad thing, and it’s the same with moving the books out of their previous categories (at least on Amazon – I’m not sure how the categories work in the other stores where they’re sold). Sales have dropped but that’s to be expected to some degree since the books would have lost their positions after the category change. But it’s hard to know for certain.
This is part of the joy (read: pain) of marketing. It’s hard to know for sure what to make of these things and, by extension, how to respond to them.
Which brings me to where I am now, getting back on that proverbial horse.
While I had a little bit of a break from writing, I resumed it quietly during the year. First of all, I went over my latest in-progress Star Frontier story and decided it’s not ready to be released into the wild yet… although I might be able to salvage something from it. That happens sometimes. Not all writing projects work out but you keep everything you write, release the good stuff and learn from the bad. I also want to make sure that if I make another Star Frontier story, it measures up to Star Frontier: Descent. And that’s a hard act to follow.
After that, I’ve got into what I referred to on my little-used Facebook page as a story ‘about vampires’. It’s something that’s been on the back-burner for years so it feels good to be working on it. However, I shouldn’t have said it’s about vampires because it isn’t. Vampires are in it, yes. One’s been dusted so far and there are more on the way. But it’s not about them. It’s about a mother and daughter, and the vampires are just window-dressing. I could easily replace them with alien zombies and it wouldn’t affect the outcome of the story.
However, I’ve always wanted to do something with vampires since they’re such a classic. It’s also interesting to see the ways they’ve both changed and haven’t changed over the years. Their abilities. The various rules that affect them. Now the book I’m working on is set in modern times but Victorian era vampire literature is my favorite kind so I’m drawing on ideas from some of those stories. Carmilla (Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu), The Vampyre (John Polidori) and, of course, Dracula (Bram Stoker). They’re great reads, by the way. So if you haven’t checked them out, go and do it now. And, yes, Dracula the book is better than the movie. All of the movies.
So that’s the writing side of things. But I’m also getting back into marketing. I’ve made new covers for most of the books because despite the old adage, people really do judge these things by their covers. And I’m also planning to start up the newsletter again and putting a form somewhere on the site where people can subscribe.
As I did the first time around, I’ll throw in some free stories for new subscribers as well as a way of saying thank you. There’s still a little work to do on that front – putting ads for the newsletter in the books, setting up the sign-on form, email automation and the download page for the freebies – but I’ll get there. So if you’re interested, watch this space.
And that’s the news, such as it is. It may not be the US midterms but I have to do the best with what I’ve got.
Whether you’re a new reader or an old reader wondering when I’m going to finally start working on this website, thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon.