S4, E84: The First Year of Being Published

Celebrating my first year of being published and Aisuru’s first “birthday” with a look back at my indie writing journey so far, both good and bad, and realizing that maybe I’m doing a little better than I often think. I also share the planned online celebrations!

News & Notes:

  • Released new cover art for the show! It should have pushed up to your podcast platform automatically, but if not, try clearing cache; I think the new art is cleaner and more professional…what about you guys?
  • Finished revising and polishing Knives and the Girl! It ended up at around 7,500 words and will go out to all current newsletter subscribers tomorrow.  New subscribers will also be able to get it starting later today or tomorrow (when I finish updating the welcome email LOL)
  • Deviations got its first review, a lovely 4 star review from NerdGirl! And a few folks have added it to their “to read” list on Goodreads which is always fun to see
  • Made a few minor tweaks to my website, including redoing my header
  • Really need to get to Girl in the Forest…

Retrospective…A Quick Look at the Past

Tomorrow will mark a year to do the day that I officially released Aisuru (okay, technically, the print one went out a little early on Amazon though it’s official date is still March 27th).  So it seemed appropriate to take a look back at my writing journey that led up to Aisuru’s publication.

  1. I came up with my pen name and officially set up my website in June 2013
  2. Started this show the following month, intending not to podcast over doing blogging (ha)
  3. Spent two more years revising Aisuru (good gravy) on top of the four I’d spent before “getting serious”
  4. In 2014, I made the foolish attempt at a crowdfunding campaign to help finance publication costs – it failed miserably by I learned lots
  5. Didn’t fully waste those two years, at least, I read tons and learned tons, though I’d realize after release not nearly enough!
  6. Finally in March, Aisuru came out with a last minute rush that I will forever be grateful to my editor for accomplishing

The Mistakes

I talked some about last year’s mess ups in my goal review (episode 81), but taking a hard look specifically at Aisuru’s release, I realize now made quite a few missteps that kept its launch from going better:

  1. The cover – I still love my tree cover, but it was not fitting for the genre at all, it didn’t translate well online, and the typography was pretty bad. I did eventually acknowledge it (too late), but it took me way too long and too many bad designs before coming up with something better. If I had it to do over again, I would have launched with the current cover, which speaks better to YA and looks more professional overall, even though I have gotten one or two comments that it still isn’t very good *sigh*
  2. The formatting – While I think I released with a much better looking interior than it could have been, particularly for print, I had missed some essential professional elements that could have made it better. Granted, a nicer print format is unlikely to have sold additional copies, but it just presents a more professional package
  3. Genre and keywords and categories – okay, dealing with keywords and categories is hard! There is like a 20 page thread on KBoards about it and people still get confused, and there is tons of conflicting information. I definitely messed up with the initial settings here and even now they probably need more tweaking (reading more on that now to help)
  4. The blurb – okay, I admit it. My blurb sucked. I SUCK at blurbs!!! I seriously do!  And the one Aisuru released with didn’t help it’s cause at all!  It went through lots of iterations before getting to the current, and seemingly better, blurb
  5. Going Wide – I like the idea of wide, I like the idea of my book being available anywhere anyone wants it. But the reality is, for a new author, right now, Amazon is it. The majority of eBook readers are on Kindle and many indies, especially starting out, struggle to find visibility on the other platforms.  Had I gone into Select from the get go, I’d have had the benefits of Kindle Unlimited, promotional tools, and some visibility boosts from the outset
  6. Doing a hardback – I love it, but it was extra expenses I didn’t need and other than friends and family, hasn’t sold at all

So basically…I messed up tons!  But, they are common mistakes, nothing I can’t (and haven’t been working on) fixing, and in the end, even if I’d done everything perfectly, I’m not sure how much more it would have helped.  I would have still been a new author with only one title, a title that I fully acknowledge is probably a bit “niche”.  Still, if I’d known as much as I know now, I think I could have least given it a better start, versus one where sales flat-lined and stayed flat for months after the few friends who were going to get copies did so. 

The Successes

All of that probably makes it sound like I regret releasing Aisuru, but I truly don’t.  It’s been an amazing and at times painful learning experience, has beaten up my meager ego quite a bit, and at times had me crying from disappointment and frustration, but I still don’t regret it.

I AM published.  I’ve shared my first story with the world!  And while yeah, Aisuru’s sales have never reached spectacular levels, it has gotten good reviews, and it is actually improving.  In the last few month, I’ve had actual organic print sales and full price sales, thanks to the push a pair of free days gave it.  I also got better at promoting, such that Aisuru’s second promo and the experiment I ran last month were both significantly more successful than last year’s abysmal $1.99 run.  I am continuing to learn, continuing to improve, and applying that knowledge both to my new works and to Aisuru.

I also realized fairly recently (because sometimes I’m a little slow)…that Deviations release came out before Aisuru’s one year anniversary, meaning I actually released TWO books in the span of one year!   Me, the write one novel a year person!   

The Celebration

Of course, I love an excuse to celebrate, so then I tried to decide what the best way to do so would be.  Well, stories, more than anything, want to be read and shared.  So what better way to get more readers, while continuing my experimenting phase, by making Aisuru FREE.  I’m using two more of Aisuru’s free days to make Aisuru completely free on Amazon March 27th and 28th.  And unlike with sales prices, the free price will carry across ALL the Amazon Kindle stores, so readers around the world can grab a copy!

At the same time, Deviations has been out just over a month, so I decided to include it in on the celebrations.  So it will go on sale for only $2.99 for the entire week (March 27th – April 1st).  Unfortunately, with Amazon’s promo pricing, the price reduction will only be in the US and UK.   But anyone with Kindle Unlimited can also still borrow it free.  

For extra fun, Deviations will be going on a “blog tour”, organized by Xpresso Book Tours, starting tomorrow and running through March 31st.  Featuring nearly 100 blogs, this tour will include exclusive new excerpts from Deviations and various interviews with me!  As part of the tour, I’m running a huge giveaway going on in which you can win an autographed copy of Deviations, a matching bookmark, and a crazy huge assortment of Japanese snack foods including a few that may require you to be just a little adventurous to try!  The giveaway link will be shared on my blog and social media, so keep an eye out.

I’ll be talking more about the tour and how it turns out in my next episode.