Disappearing in Plain Sight – Five Free Days – Part One

  First rhodo - Guenettte photo

Over the Easter long-weekend, I ran a five-day free promotion for Disappearing in Plain Sight. Before going into chapter and verse about how that promotion went, I want to spend part one of this post setting the stage.

I self-published Disappearing in Plain Sight in the spring of 2013. From then until March 24th of 2016, the book had garnered 135 e-sales across all Amazon venues. I’ve had it in and out of Kobo, Nook and iTunes and those markets added 22 more sales. Most will admit, this rate of return gives a new meaning to slow and steady. Somewhat like this poor little forsythia (pictured below) that I’ve nourished along for years.

Forsythia - Guenette photo

Efforts at selling softcover copies of all my books in our local community has resulted in far more sales. It is those sales that have kept my head above water and provided the capital to invest in yet more inventory and pay for the production of subsequent books.

Emma in Save-On with Chasing Down the Night - Guenette photo

I have dedicated many hours to building a social media network, writing blog posts, searching for interesting articles to share on my Facebook Author page and stripping down tidbits of daily life to 140 character tweets. I’ve enjoyed many of these activities but they’ve been primarily aimed at creating an audience of readers who will get interested enough in me to invest the small amount of money it takes to purchase an e-book.

E-book sales did not  justify the time spent. But I didn’t look at it like that. I have always believed that I was creating something that would bear fruit in the future. I had my five-year plan and I was working it. Build the network, enjoy it as I go and write more books.

Periwinkle - Guenette photo

I did not come to promotion and book marketing with any type of experience or, for that matter, enthusiasm. It’s been very difficult to self-promote. Always feeling like I am blowing my horn while standing on a street corner in a strange outfit is not high on the list of things I love.

Book marketing and promotion are skills that require the climbing of a steep learning curve. I’ve had my share of bumps, bruises and falls from that curve. For some time now, the word everywhere has been that BookBub combined with offering a book for free is the only promotion that really works. I’m sort of stubborn when things like that are touted about. I resisted. It was expensive, it was competitive. Two things I generally try to avoid. I’ve also been in this game long enough to have realized that people can exaggerate the good results of their efforts. Who can blame them? When you’ve invested the kind of cash a BookBub slot costs, you wouldn’t want to say it didn’t work out as well for you as everyone else claimed it did for them.

It was simpler than all that, though. I couldn’t wrap my head around how paying a large sum of money to give books away could possibly make any sense.

Doubting Cow - Bruce Witzel photo

So, instead, I continued to invest drips and drabs of money on things that bore zero results when it came to sales – Facebook boosts (this may not have resulted in much because I’m not doing it right), blog tours, entering contests (possibly didn’t amount to anything because I never win), sites that charge nominal fees to promote. All these costs seemed small at the time, but they did add up.

When I caught on to the fact that I had spent a large amount in small bits to achieve nothing, I started to see things differently. At the same time, I received advice from two trusted sources, people who had read my book and had absolutely no reason to lie to me. The advice was clear and to the point: give BookBub a chance in conjunction with Amazon free days. What on earth are you waiting for?

Desert Beauty - Bruce Witzel photo

I moved all my books back to Kindle Select – giving Amazon exclusive rights so I would be eligible to run a free promotion. Then I screwed my courage to the sticking post and did my first application to BookBub for Disappearing in Plain Sight. I was turned down – a very common occurrence. I had heard from other authors that this would happen but told to keep on trying. On my second attempt, I didn’t try to break into the huge romance category but opted instead for literary fiction and I didn’t specify an exact date, allowing BookBub to choose where to slot me. I was accepted. I can’t say that the changes I made from the first application to the second resulted in success because I have no idea one way or the other. There is a certain mystery imbued in all such sought-after services.

Tune in for Part 2 of this post wherein I wax eloquent on the popular wisdom about all the things one should do to ensure success with the coveted BookBub slot.

Wildflowers at Nez Perez Historic Park, Big Hole National Battlefield, Montana - bruce witzel photo

Read all About it! Disappearing in Plain Sight is Free

Could it be Crater Lake - Bruce Witzel photo

I am proud to share a post from my biggest fan and promoter – my husband, Bruce. He’s blogging on through the luminary lens to give even more readers a chance to get a free copy of Disappearing in Plain Sight. Don’t miss out!

Pop over to Bruce’s blog.

The Power of Water

This post appeared on my blog last summer. In celebration of the ebook version of Disappearing in Plain Sight – first book in the Crater Lake Series – being offered free on Amazon, I’m pleased to share an interview that explains how my writing is linked to living near bodies of water.

disappearinginplainsight

A tree - Matthew Keeley - photo

A couple of months ago, I was featured on Linda Hall’s blog as part of a series entitled – Water Blogs. Linda invited authors to describe how bodies of water had influenced their writing. I’m pleased to share my answers with all of you, today.

What are my stories about?

Lives are shaped by the places in which they are lived. My novels are set in a rural landscape and they focus on the vagaries of human relationships. I write fiction to explore the many ways people deal with loss and the challenges of remaking their lives, to delve into the inevitable complications that come about when someone takes the risk of moving forward and to emphasize that rebuilding a life occurs in starts and stops.

My body of water …

I live perched above the shores of a beautiful lake. The body of water in my novels has the…

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Get a Free E-Book and Help Me Celebrate Four Years of Being an Indie-Author

Streamers - Goggle image

Disappearing in Plain Sight will be free on Amazon from Friday March 25th to Tuesday March 29th. Celebrate the long weekend by reading the 1st book in the Crater Lake Series.

Disappearing in Plain Sight has over thirty-five Amazon reviews with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars!

Here are just a few tidbits of what readers have had to say:

  • Deeply emotional characters that become fast friends.
  • Don’t expect to get any sleep until you finish this book!
  • A gripping family saga that won’t let you down.
  • A coming-of-age story that crashes smack dab into several coming-of-middle-age stories.
  • Characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading the book.
  • This emotional family drama will more than captivate.
  • Evocative novel, beautifully written.
  • Richly textured story of loss and renewal set in rural Canada.
  • A story that became a meditation on empathy and love.
  • An exceptionally well crafted novel – a delight to read and experience.

There you have it! Help me celebrate four years as a published indie author by grabbing the first book in the Crater Lake Series for FREE this long weekend. And here’s hoping you will fall in love with the characters and the setting enough to read the whole series.

If you have already read Disappearing in Plain Sight – thank you! I invite you to help me spread the news that my novel is free for the next five days by sharing this blog in anyway that suits you. And many, many thanks in advance Smile

THANK YOU on speech bubble price labels

Yet Another Post on Reading Peeves

Emma sipping tea - Guenette photo

I’ve been reading a lot lately. I love to read and I do it all the time but these days, part of my retreat into the pages is my inability to cross the divide that separates my own book planning from book writing. No doubt this has put me in a picky frame of mind. Then again, that might just be my natural bend.

Some books rub me the wrong way. Here is a collection of my current peeves.

A point of view that allows a character to say, “If I knew then what I know now.” Or a variation on that line. Often, when this happens, 99% of the time the author has been using a third-person point-of-view. Then along comes a 1% slip that allows a character to break the third wall by speaking directly to the reader and telling something this character can’t possibly know – at least not yet.

I find this slip a distancing technique that irks me. After all, I’ve spent time bonding with a character, living the story as he or she is living it. Then quite suddenly, I am knocked flying out on my ear. All attempts to suspend reality while within the pages of this book have been for naught.

And speaking of an author’s voice intervening …

I have no problem with characters having opinions. After all, that is what makes characters real and vastly interesting. When I read a book where the same opinion is expressed by two or three or four different characters, I start to wonder and not in a good way. I can’t help but think that the author’s agenda is slipping in and I don’t appreciate being held captive to someone’s soapbox. Authors may well put the blame on the characters they have created – an indefensible position. If not guilty of trying to ride their hobby horse in the name of their characters, then they are guilty of being redundant – almost as bad!

Pensive Emma - Guenette photo

Agenda is not always relegated to characters’ opinions …

In a book I recently finished, three out of five, female, secondary characters are described as grossly overweight and I mean graphic descriptions of rolling, folds of flesh and eyes sunken in mounds of fat. Having one character like this would make an impact – three simply screams out – what the hell is going on? I’m well aware that rates of obesity are rising but one can only assume author bias when something like this occurs.

Who remembers the importance of character arc? Put your hand up.

Real life moves along at a certain pace – sometimes rushing, sometimes crawling. Change takes time and people don’t often turn one-hundred and eighty degrees on a dime. Okay, I get all of that. But a novel isn’t meant to read like real life. It’s not a reality show. Unless you’re writing a multiple edition saga, the reader will want to see characters they have bonded with making progress over the course of the novel. I don’t want to spend time with a character who is still saying the same childish, silly things at the three-quarter mark of the book that they were saying at the beginning – especially when they have had ample chances to smarten up.

And what about staying true to the character created.

If the woman is described as being in her thirties, ridiculous affectations and childish attitudes are out of place. Unless, of course, acting infantile is the point. If an author wants to write a young adult novel with a teenage protagonist, then go ahead and do it. If there is some legitimate reason your character behaves in odd ways, then please do explain. Otherwise, let characters behave in ways that at least approximate their age.

Emma on the phone - Bruce Witzel photo

Well … there you have it. Rant complete, air cleared. I know I could be called to task for things I write that irritate. Each list of peeves will be as unique as the individual doing the peeving. But I don’t think that means I should never let fly with what is getting on my nerves. I don’t mention names or particular titles for a reason. I understand that my particular peeve is unique to me.

DIY Book Formatting – A Cautionary Tale

Highway 40 bridge washout from 2013 Calgary floods - Bruce Witzel photo

This post has been sometime in the construction because I needed to see the end of the journey before I could share.

When I began formatting the softcover edition of Maelstrom, I had previous experience handling the task for The Light Never Lies (LNL) and Chasing Down the Night (CDN). It was a huge learning curve with LNL but I persevered and when it came time to do CDN, things went off with nary a hitch. I did not anticipate any problems with Maelstrom.

All I can say, in retrospect, is do not go cocky into that good night.

P1060886                                    P1060885

For Maelstrom, I made one change. Instead of the floral wingding that acts as a separation marker between chapter sections in LNL and CDN, I wanted something different. The idea of a gate suited Maelstrom. This single change was to haunt me.

Using the same specifications employed or the other books (size, spacing and font), I formatted Maelstrom, loaded the finished PDF file up to CreateSpace and waited for approval. The electronic files looked great, so I ordered a proof.

When it arrived, I was surprised and disappointed to note that on certain pages, the type was washed out. I emailed CreateSpace, included photos and explained that I had only made the one change – those gates. Could this be the problem? Without answering the question of why, they promised another proof free of charge.

Bang head - Google image

You know that old adage – you can’t keep banging your head against the same wall and expect a different outcome? What happened next was something like that. Four free proof copies later and still no adequate response to my steadily lengthening emails about getting to the bottom of the problem of the washed out print.

 

It was clear that further email exchanges could not solve this problem. I got on the phone. A polite fellow informed me that CreateSpace cannot guarantee the font I had been using – Baskerville Old Face – at the size I was using – 10.5 pt. I was incredulous because I have used this font and this size on two other books and ordered boxes of said books without ever noticing any washed out print. But ours is not to question why. He suggested a switch to Georgia 10.5 pt. This formatting change added eighty pages to the finished book!

Concurrent with all the above printing issues, I had two trips to the city planned and holidays were fast approaching. Add in the keen desire to have the softcover out in time for Christmas sales and I’m sure you can see disaster lurking right over the horizon.

Northern Vancouver Island Storm Dec. 9, 2014 - bruce witzel

The longer book required that the cover be tweaked for a thicker spine. Amid the hustle and bustle and outright agony of the process, an earlier cover file was accidently chosen and duly tweaked. With so much attention being paid to the interior file, the cover got no proofing at all. We simply assumed it was fine because the cover was the one thing about all the proofs that had met with our complete approval. The new interior file was uploaded to CreateSpace and a proof copy was ordered.

The latest proof arrived right before Christmas and a quick glance told me Georgia font was the cat’s meow – clear, dark and easy to read. Go ahead and order fifty copies we decided. Did we proof the cover? No – why would we? The cover had never been the problem. Did we carefully go over each page of the interior? No – why would we? The only problem had been the washed out print and the new font had solved that nicely. Or at least, so it seemed upon first glance.

I’m sure you can guess what comes next. When I had time to really examine the book, my first discovery was two typos on the back cover in the book description. I thought my heart might stop beating. Seriously – I simply could not believe my eyes or get my breath. Next, a reader mentioned some odd gaps in the print. A careful perusal revealed no less than a dozen incidents where the print skipped down a line for no reason. Another reader wondered if something might be wrong with his eyes because, lo and behold, the print is slightly lighter on the pages with the gate wingdings. You are now invited to picture me bursting into tears.

Emma newborn - 2008

It was back to the drawing board, yet again. I wish I could say I went with a smile but I cannot. Georgia is a darker font and even though the pages with the gates are somewhat lighter compared to the ones without, the overall quality is acceptable. I decided to keep the gates. I had become quite attached.

The cover was corrected, the interior file totally proofed and both resubmitted for approval through CreateSpace. The online proof was carefully checked and a softcover ordered. It has arrived, to much fanfare. The cover is perfect and the print, even on pages with the gate wingding, is clear. Finally, I hold this book in my hands and let out a sigh of satisfaction.

Holding Maelstrom - Bruce Witzel photo              Maelstrom interior - Bruce Witzel photo

The lesson I have learned is this – format in haste, repent in leisure. Why the rush? No longer will I impose arbitrary deadlines on myself. If a book isn’t ready for Christmas sales one year, it will definitely be ready the next. And no events planned until the books are in hand. Making life less stressful is bound to result.

Footbridge - Bruce Witzel photo

Have you any formatting nightmares to share? Please wade in and we can all wail together. Misery does so love company.

A Guiding Metaphor for the Writing Process

Open crocus - Guenette photo

The one who, “… every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him [or her] through a labyrinth of the most busy life.” Victor Hugo

I have a million excuses for the fact that I am not making headway with my current work in progress – none of which I feel the need to waste your time with. What I’ve been thinking about on this fine, Daylight Savings Time morning, is how a guiding metaphor can hold one back or, in the spirit of this day, help one spring forward.

Consider the following piece from my writing notes of yesterday:

Do I have too much material or not enough? Definitely, more than enough! A trimming may be in order. Though I’ve been through these anxieties before, I’m almost overwhelmed by the number of threads that need to be woven together to make this book happen. It feels as though I’m in front of an empty loom with piles of coloured yarn all around my feet. I have to pick up the right thread at the right time and set the pattern. There’s all this fear that I will start out wrong and have to backtrack. It’s inevitable. And anyone who has ever done needlework of any kind knows – pulling something out is hard work.

Loom cartoon - google image

Rereading that section today, I find myself thinking that the loom metaphor is not particularly helpful. It seems, in fact, to be paralyzing.

A new visualization is a must. I’m trying this one on for size.

My writing process is like a free-form, patchwork quilt. I create a square and then another and another. At some point, I begin to lay them out to see how they might fit together and gradually, over time, a pattern emerges. As the design begins to come together, I’ll shuffle and rearrange my quilt squares over and over. Loose threads will be drawn through the pattern. Joining squares may be needed in various spots and the whole work might benefit from some type of border. I’ll have to decide on a special colour of thread to join it all together. The true design will only emerge as I go.

Quilt - google image

No guarantee this metaphor is going to push me over that painful divide from planning the book to actually writing the book but at least I am no longer pinned beneath an empty loom. And this quilt does seem to snap nicely in the spring breeze.

What about you? Does having a guiding metaphor for your writing process help you move forward?