So much politics, so little time

I’m working on the structure of Triumphe’s political system (what did you think I meant real life politics?). There is a lot  going on in Delphinium, and a lot more planned for the future, so I want to have things set up in a way that makes sense.

So far I have the one kingdom, Triumphe, that does not cover the entire realm of Clandestina, but a good 3/4ths of it. The remaining unclaimed land is just that- unclaimed, with far more fée influence and magic than the mostly human kingdom. Said kingdom has 4 duchies, named after the French card suits (Piques, Trèfles, Carreaux, Cœurs). Each of those duchies has several of their own counties, from two to four. There’s also the Margrave’s territory, which is less a piece of land and more the border between their plane and Faery.

I have a great new mapping software that is helping me figure it all out (Other World Mapper). Once I get it all done I’ll show it off, here and on the wiki (which I am still working on).

I’ve managed to upload Larkspur to Pronoun with an epub file as well, the docx isn’t really working, but they’re looking into fixing it. So far it’s back on Amazon and going through for the other stores. You can check out Larkspur’s awesome new book-page too.

Technical re-release

I use Amazon directly, and Draft2Digital for everything else, to publish my book to varying online stores. Or, I used to. Today I took down Larkspur from Amazon and D2D, and I’m moving it (and future books) to Pronoun.

When Larkspur goes down on all the sites I’ll be able to upload it again via Pronoun. It’ll be a technical re-release, with a new ASIN on Amazon, a new published date, etc. The reviews will be moved over in a few days, and beside the change in url, everything else should go back to normal.

I’m doing this for a few reasons. I really like how Pronoun is set up, for one. It makes it easy to get the book to all the major stores, Amazon and Google Play included (which d2d does not do). I can change the price of my book to free whenever I want, and change it back without as much hassle (Amazon makes you email them and ask). They also have a neat author-page set up, and will email you when you get new reviews.

They also have a 70% royalty for all prices under 9.99, not just from 2.99-9.99, so the margin’s better for the cheaper books.

Plus they use a serif font on their site. I’m a sucker for a lovely serif typeface.

26 to 3000 subscribers in two months

I’m going to hit 3000 subscribers to my newsletter today. I’m at ~2900 and expecting a few hundred from a promo in an email soon So I thought I would share how I did it.

First of all join InstaFreebie: https://instafreebie.com?invite_code=acE1gC9YIa
It’s a site where you set up your book for download via email. People get a mobi, epub, or pdf sent to them in exchange for their email. This is great for writers and readers of all kinds.

The second thing you do it go to Pricing and click the Plus Plan. You get 30 days free from Instafreebie to try it out so it’s entirely worth it. With the Plus plan (it’s $20 a month after the first month) you can make it mandatory to join your mailing list in exchange for a book (as opposed to there being a little check to opt-in, and we all know no one ever clicks the little check when signing up for things). I was a little hesitant about this at first, but well, they can always unsubscribe later on if they just wanted the book (mention this in your newsletter! Some folk will mark as spam no matter what though).

The link you want to give out has the word ‘free’ in it- https://www.instafreebie.com/free/ NOT https://www.instafreebie.com/book/

Third: Use Facebook. Yes, I’m serious. There are a ton of facebook groups and pages for authors working together to exchange newsletters, promos, and to help each other out.

There’s InstaFreebie Promos: https://www.facebook.com/groups/instafreebiepromos/?ref=br_rs

FreebieFriday on Instafreebie: https://www.facebook.com/groups/578910405624973/?ref=br_rs

InstaFreebie Push: https://www.facebook.com/groups/674062869429630/?ref=br_rs

InstaFreebie Share Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/instafreebiebooksharegroup/?ref=br_rs

And there are also groups devoted to specific genres.

Then join as many promos as you are qualified to join. Some are free, for others you may need to pay in, many are divided by genre. These are mostly everyone-pitches-in promos, so all those that joined in all spread the word to their newsletter/mailing list/blog/social media.

You can also join Newsletter Swap: http://newsletterswap.com/ and set up your book there, asking others to send your book out to their people (if you’re still growing your list, it isn’t mandatory to actually swap). It lets you put in any store link you want, including Instafreebie.

You’ll collect the emails on InstaFreebie (unless you use Mailchimp, integration with MC is also part of the $20 plan). You can download them as a CSV. They’re broken up into Subscribers and Unverified (need to download them as separate CSV files), the latter being that IF couldn’t send them your book. I put both into my list and find that most of the ‘unverified emails’ do work.

(The Pro plan at $50 a month isn’t worth it, imo. You get to use more pen-names, and change the color of the ‘Claim’ button).

Doing this I went from 26 subscribers in December to almost 3000 today. I have about a1/3rd open rate, and I’ve grown a team of 50 ARC and beta readers 

(Oh, and if you want to join my mailing list, pop over to this page and grab a copy of Larkspur! https://vmjaskiernia.com/newsletter-and-free-books/ )

Happy list building!

2017 plans

Ok, Larkspur is officially back at 99¢ on all platforms. This is after having the best month ever for free downloads- I’m at 1465 downloads on Amazon alone (not counting the B&N/Kobo downloads, or the ~700 insta-freebie downloads). That’s an astounding number of people potentially reading my work. I’m actually a little intimidated, but super excited for (hopefully) some new reviews in the coming weeks.
I thought since Larkspur will now be free from Instafreebie in return for signing up to my newsletter, I’d better make it a buck everywhere else. I’m also planning on a few stand-alone stories that will be on the instafreebie mailing list page for free, but cost money on Amazon and everywhere else.
Now will that be worth it? Am I going to go from over 20 downloads a day to nothing because of the cost of a candy-bar? I don’t know. Likely it’ll drop significantly. Maybe I should have waited until this freebie rush ended, but maybe it’ll be better with all the eyes on it?

It’s been really fun though. I’m loving taking a forward approach with marketing and getting new eyes on my stuff.

As 2016 is wrapping up I’m working on big plans for 2017. Delphinium will be out, and those on my newsletter will get an Advanced Reader Copy (it’ll be the same edition I send to my beta readers, so there may be small issues and some changes between it and the final edition, but nothing super major), and I want those stand-alone books done too. I want to sketch out and get a good chunk of The Wolf Within done, not to mention start (and finish?) Aconitella, the third book in The Larkspur Series.
Yes, I know it’s a lot of work, far more than I’ve managed to do before, but I’m feeling good. A lot of my symptoms and issues with depression and OCD are getting under control. I changed my diet, I’m (trying to) remember my meds.. I know I’ll still have bad days, maybe a bad week here or there, but if I feel as good as I do today, I think I can make writing more of a proper full-time ‘sit down and work’ thing.
So yes- Happy New Year to all, I hope you meet your goals and plans. I’m being a  bit ambitious, but if I even get half of what I want done I’ll be pleased. And I hope you all will be too.

Mailing Lists, InstaFreebie, and marketing

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all!

I’ve been having a wonderful Christmas season. And the best present I’ve gotten (beside the lovely notebook and galaxy-themed earrings) are my new subscribers!

I currently have 430 subscribers on my email list. 430! And we haven’t even gotten to the several give-aways I’ve signed up to do in January. I’m amazed and so so happy 🙂

It begins with InstaFreebie, a site where you can upload your book, and anyone with the link can download it to their email. There’s a fair bit of customization- how many downloads you allow, the file types, or whether or not they can join your newsletter. For one of the paying plans you can make it mandatory to sign up for your newsletter before you can download it.

I was a little hesitant about this, not wanting to force anyone on the newsletter if they just wanted to read Larkspur– but if it was presented as an option, it was just a little checkmark underneath the space to type in your email. And you and I both know that no one ever checks the little checkmark. Other authors also told me to make it mandatory- after all, there’s an unsubscribe button, so folk can always leave if they really don’t want to  stay.

So I went ahead and made it mandatory, then signed up for every insta-freebie give-away group thingy I could find. One or two now in late December, and like 5 in January-February.

Best decision ever. Last week I had 26 subscribers and never sent an email. Now I have a few hundred, might get to a few thousand, and plan to send stuff out on a monthly or so basis. Info, tidbits, other books in similar genres that look awesome. Should be super fun!

(Oh, and I’m still doing newsletter swaps! I had to retweak some of the wording on the google form, but that will be back soon as well).

I think I’m going to go and make instafreebie a more permanent part of my marketing and mailing list. I’m going to take down the sendinblue sign-up page up in the menu and in the book, and make the instafreebie link the main one to get to my newsletter. Also going to bump Larkspur back up  to 99cents on the ebook sites. And then I need to write a few more shorter works to offer as alternatives on insta-freebie if folk don’t want Larkspur and would rather something else.

Plus Delphinium, and the wiki, and The Wolf Within, and learning how to use my drawing tablet to make ever better covers

EDIT: I lied. Just bumped up Larkspur on B&N and Kobo. I’ll email Amazon about it when they change their prices. From now on my books will only be free through Instafreebie and my newsletter (which now has a nifty page up in the menu). You can, of course, always just sign up, get the book, and unsubscribe  😉

So many promos! Now back to me :)

I thought I’d check in and ramble about myself and my work for a little bit to break up the other indie folk.

That said this cross-promotion thing is amazing. All the great writers that I’m showing off are also showing off Larkspur. In October I had 160+ downloads, 101 in November, and in December I have 425 so far, and it’s only the 4th! I’m sure I have a few more promos set up for December too, and I’m not-so-secretly hoping to break 1000.

I have most of the major scenes for Delphinium written and pretty polished, now I’m just trying to tie them all together coherently. Sometimes I explain something in a chapter only to find that I wrote something similar already, so that all has to be fixed and redone. Some of the chapters take place over a day and others might be several weeks and I need to summarize, or expand, and make it flow right. I’m feeling really good about this story though- I have fewer “this sucks, what the hell am I even doing” days than I used to have. The story itself, by the way, takes place over 4 months and almost a week. I am gradually scaling up the time for each book, Aconitella should take place over a year and a half, and a few of the vaguely plotted stories for after the Larkspur series may cover five to ten years. I am working with a lot of time, generations here, so going week by week might not be the best idea in the world.

The Wolf Within has been put aside so I can wrap up Delphinium, but it will be written alongside Aconitella. I want to try dealing with more than one world at once, outside of Scenes. And even with Scenes I tend to fall back into the realm I’m working on at the moment. I’ve not been able to stick to another realm long enough for a good coherent Scene in a while (sorry about that).

I do have a pretty finished opening page to The Wolf Within though, so I’ll go ahead and share that here! 🙂

The pups were coming out of the den. They were less than a moon old and had only opened their eyes a few days past, but the alpha-mother was letting them come to meet the rest of the pack. Their alpha-father stood at the opening of the den, tail wagging his entire body as he made himself wait for his mate and puppies to appear. It was their first litter.
The other two wolves of the pack stood further back, not part of the family and not wishing to intrude, though keeping away from new puppies had proved too difficult to overcome entirely.

Alpha-mother came out first and greeted her mate. An uncertain whining was heard from the den and she yipped, telling her little ones that it was safe. Alpha-father had had enough waiting and stuck his head into the den, sniffing and licking the bundles of fur. He grabbed one by the scruff and pulled him out, setting him down before covering him again in licks.

The other two siblings ran out then and all descended on their father, licking at the corners on his mouth and pressing to him, showing him deference and love.

“Come,” the alpha-mother said to the two sitting off to the side. She nudged one of the puppies, a solid black one, in their direction if her beckoning had not been enough. “You are pack too.”

The elder, a golden wolf with suspiciously blue eyes, looked to the younger white wolf before taking a step forward.

The black puppy moved to him, tail low but swishing, shy and trying not to show her fear. The golden wolf dipped his head and licked her in greeting, and she nuzzled him back.

“Smell different.” The pup sneezed and stood back to look at the other pack members, then back to his mother. “Wolf-not-wolf.”

“Man-wolf,” his father explained. “Pack.”

The golden wolf laid down to be less intimidating and all the pups decided it would be a grand idea to tackle him at once.

Finally the black pup went over to the white wolf and sniffed her curiously. She was different than the golden wolf still, and reminded her of her parents in how she sat.

“Alpha-not-wolf?” she asked.

Her father walked over and bent his head, exposing his neck. “Man-wolf queen. She is the alpha of all the alphas. Wolf and man-wolf.”

The queen nudged alpha-father to stand and snorted in annoyance. “I am still young, and a guest of your father’s. I am not here as his alpha.”

Hope everyone is having a great Christmas season! ❤

Indie Promos and other stuff

You may have noticed that I made a new category for Indie Promotions. I’ve recently begun using facebook a lot more than I ever have joining groups for writers, authors, and marketing help.

They’re wonderful! It’s a bunch of fans of the genre and art working together for the good of all. There’s a lot of cross-promotion and helping each other out. I had over 100 downloads last month and almost at 100 for November too  ❤

Mostly these promos revolve around mailing lists, but since my list is tiny (26 people, woo) I think it makes more sense to post here on my blog where I get more views, and also the posts are tweeted. (I think I’ll come up with something eventually where once a month I’ll gather the promos I did on the blog and send them to the newsletter too).

Double good news- this gets me on my blog more. So I think I’ll be upping the amount of other posts I put here because I don’t want it to just be swamped with promos.

In regards to other stuff- I do have a Scene finished that I was going to post, but it doesn’t feel right to me for some reason. I think I’m going to have to rewrite it. It involves a realm I’ve never really done anything in yet, so it’s new and wobbly. I do have another Scene that’s almost done so I think that’ll be up in the next few days as well.

And I am working on Delphinium. It failed as a NaNo project (I got really caught up in election stuff), so I won’t be able to wrap it up by December, but things are going well. I got another beta reader that liked Larkspur and is top notch with grammar, so I can’t wait for someone who knows that to be a help

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and is having a great Advent!