No Compass to Right–Cover Reveal

NO COMPASS TO RIGHT- 6x9 corrected version - front cover

Drum roll, please. I am thrilled to officially reveal the cover for the latest offering in the Crater Lake Series – Book four: No Compass to Right. Tentative release date: June 1, 2017!

NO COMPASS TO RIGHT - 6x9 corrected version - back cover (jpeg)

Photographs and design by Bruce Witzel.

3-D back and front NCR

I can’t wait to hold this one in my hands Smile

Is there life after finishing a first draft?

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My title poses an interesting question. Is there life after a first draft? You may well wonder since I’ve gone dark on social media since I announced I had finished mine. Truth be told, I needed a break from talking about my work.

I have not been idle. For an indie author, the work never stops. While that first draft was simmering, I reread the other three books in the series. This was useful as I go into rewrites on the fourth book. I now have the entire story line in my head. As a matter of course, I picked up typos and a few continuity errors. So, I upgraded all the files. I’ve been meaning to do such an update for a while because I’ve learned how to do the table of contents feature in a way that is more compatible for Kindle readers.

A great upside to indie publishing and doing my own ebook formatting is that I can revise and repost my interior book files whenever necessary. The need to do such revising comes up more often that I realized it would. When the fourth book is published, I will have redo the interior file for the third with a sneak peek at chapter one of the fourth.

I’ve now moved through my first rewrite on No Compass to Right. I’ve trimmed down the word count, cleaned up problematic scenes, checked over time frames and rewritten a key event that, according to one of my consultants, was more complicated than necessary. I’ve done multiple searches for incidents of unclear, weak writing.

Line-by-line editing has begun on the early chapters and rewrites will continue apace of editing. This process may seem clunky but it works for me. I’m keeping ahead of my editor (what a laugh!) by reading the entire work aloud and making changes as I go. Much is discovered while reading a piece of one’s writing aloud!

When I can’t face any of the above tasks, I switch gears to work on acknowledgments, dedication and the dreaded book blurb for the latest novel. Nothing tests an author’s mettle like writing a book blurb. There is that moment, looking at a blank page, knowing I must come up with 250 words that will excite, entice and lure the reader into my story, when I realize that my book must be about nothing since my mind is a total blank.

I’m also working on ideas, conceptual sketches and assembling photos for the cover of this new work.

On the marketing front, I’ve landed another BookBub slot for Disappearing in Plain Sight in May. It was March 2016 that I was featured with the first book of the Crater Lake Series. I am eager to share how a second time on the same book works out.

So, that’s where I’m at. Where in the writing process do you find yourself?

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Happy Dance – Let’s Celebrate

Happy young buddhas - google images

This is the last instalment of my Thoughts from the Writing Trenches extravaganza. 170,000 words and the first draft of No Compass to Right – 4th book in the Crater Lake series – is done. Wrote almost 9,000 of those in one day. I was so in the grips of the story, I could hardly get out of the chair to use the bathroom. But it was worth it.

There’s a weird feeling that comes over me as I scroll through the pages – shock and awe. How did I do it? I somehow managed to put all these characters on the playing board of the story then I followed them through to the last page. I think I could write a hundred books and I would always feel like this when I got to the end of the first draft. I went to sleep the night I finished and slept a solid eight, dreamless hours. It was wonderful!

Many thanks for following this first draft writing series. It felt less lonely in the writing trenches knowing some of you were digging along beside me. If you have any suggestions for future series, let me know.

Butterfly sculpture overlooking the lake(2) -  bruce witzel photo

Disappearing in Plain Sight–FREE–Nov. 11-13

My books - Guenette photo

Last chance in 2016 to start the Crater Lake Series of books for FREE Smile 

Join the thousands of readers who have downloaded Disappearing in Plain Sight and then go on to read the entire series. Both The Light Never Lies (Book Two) and Chasing Down the Night (Book Three) are available to purchase or read free of charge through the Kindle Unlimited program.

I warn you, though … you will get hooked on these books and then you must anxiously await – like so many others readers – the release of the fourth in the series.

Excerpts from reviews:

Couldn’t put it down! Francis Guenette goes beyond captivating in “Disappearing in Plain Sight”. Weaving her background in psychology into the lives of her characters, she creates an intimate look into their souls.

Deeply emotional characters that will stay with you long after you have finished reading.

A stunning family drama that will captivate, infuriate and ultimately change the way you look at the world.

Set in the wilderness of Northern Vancouver Island … the landscape became a character in itself.

A story that became a meditation on love and empathy … literary fiction at its finest.

Books wash the soul

Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Disappearing in Plain Sight – FREE from Nov. 11th to 13th.

Marketing Update

Deck flowers - Guenette photo

As many of you who follow my blog know, I stepped up my marketing strategies to promote my self-published novels in March of this year. You can read about what I did and how it worked by checking out the following post: One Month Past BookBub Promotion.

I am five months down the road and the Crater Lake books are selling well. Yippee – happy dance and all of that. But here is the question you might be asking: How has she kept the ball rolling? Before I get to that, I will state two important caveats. My books are selling wildly beyond my expectations when compared with how I was doing prior to my BookBub slot in March. That having been said, my books are not selling at the same level that they did right after the BookBub promotion.

My marketing strategy has consisted of booking free days for Disappearing in Plain Sight every month or so using the KDP Select Program and promoting those free days through various venues. I’ve had different results for the money spent and am happy to share how the cost per free download panned out over the various promotional spots. Number of downloads isn’t the whole story, though. Bumps in Amazon rankings play a role in continued sales.

So here goes. All costs are rounded off and reported in Canadian funds.

In May, I ran two free days of promotion for Disappearing in Plain Sight and advertised via Free Kindle Books and Tips (130.00) and the Book Marketing Tool (20.00). I garnered just over 1000 downloads. This wasn’t enough to make serious moves up the rankings in the Amazon Free Store and I paid approx. 15 cents per download. Costly, but May and June sales of the subsequent books in the series (The Light Never Lies and Chasing Down the Night) definitely showed the halo effect from free downloads of the first book in the series.

In June, I was able to snag a spot on E-Reader News Today (53.00). I booked three free days for Disappearing in Plain Sight and as well as the ENT slot, I used FreeBooksy (82.00). Stacked up 3034 downloads. Three times the downloads for less cost than May’s promotion. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that. FreeBooksy came first, so I was able to make a rough judgement on effect. About 800 downloads for an approx. cost of 10 cents per download. ENT is the best priced option for results. 1800 downloads for an approx. cost of 3 cents per download. Not bad! Plus, rankings moved significantly and led to excellent subsequent sales.

In July, I ran three free days and used FreeBooksy again (82.00), Sweet Free Books (10.00) and Book Sends (34.00). Managed 1337 downloads. FreeBooksy performed as it did in June. Sweet Free Books was a pleasant surprise. I calculated 200 downloads for approx. 5 cents per download. Book Sends came in at about 7 cents per download. Again, rankings rose and subsequent sales over the series continued.

In August, I changed my strategy by listing my newest stand-alone novel, Maelstrom, for a two-day free event and advertised with Sweet Free Books (10.00) and BookSends (67.00). There were 1627 downloads that saw BookSends performing at the 5 cents per download level and Sweet Free Books did better than my use of them in July – getting down to approx. 3 cents per download. My aim with this promotion was to garner reviews for Maelstrom and I am still waiting to see if that occurs. It does take time to read the book!

I was pleasantly surprised to notice that the increased ranking for Maelstrom over the time of the promotion seemed to boost sales on all my books.

I have tried to capture another BookBub slot for the second book in the Crater Lake Series – The Light Never Lies – with no success so far. BookBub and E-Reader News Today continue to be the big performers when it comes to download numbers and because of that, getting in the door is quite the challenge.

My experience with utilizing Amazon’s free days and going with a variety of promotional services has shown me that even on a small budget, I can get results and keep selling over a longer haul.

I hope my experience can be of some use. I’m not saying, go out and do what I have done. The promotion of self-published books has way too many variables for that. The whole process seems to be part experimentation, part experience and part flying by the seat of one’s pants. I used categories specific to my books. Your books may land in categories that are more or less popular. I have promoted the first book in a three book series with the hope of cashing in on the halo effect. You may or may not have a series to promote. Timing may be a factor. I’ve always promoted over a weekend. In the fall, I’ll mix things up a bit and promote during the week.

Back garden - Guenette photo

August 2016 is Write An Amazon Review Month!

 August Garden - Guenette photo

On Monday 25th July, book blogger Rosie Amber wrote a post encouraging readers and writers alike to post a short review on Amazon for any book they’ve read and enjoyed. She provides a link to a post that provides some excellent book review templates.

Following this up, Terry Tyler is starting an initiative along with other writer-bloggers including Rosie, Cathy from Between The Lines, Barb Taub, Shelley Wilson and Alison Williams. I’m pleased to be associated with these ladies through Rosie’s book review team and to have the chance to spread their book review message.

The idea is this: We declare August to be “Write an Amazon Review Month”. We invite everyone who hears about this initiative to use their Amazon account to post just one review on one book that they’ve read (feel free to carry on if you get in the swing!). You don’t even have to have read the book recently, it can be any book you’ve read, any time. The book does not have to have been purchased from Amazon, though if it is you get the ‘Verified Purchase’ tag on your review.

Remember, this isn’t the Times Literary Supplement, it’s Amazon, where ordinary people go to choose their next 99 cent Kindle book. No one expects you to write a thousand word, in-depth critique. I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to read one short paragraph or a couple of lines saying what an average reader thought of a book, than a long-winded essay about the pros and cons of the various literary techniques used. Yes, those are welcome too (!), but no more so than a few words saying “I loved this book, I was up reading it until 3am”, or “I loved the characters, the dialogue was so realistic.”

Why should you write a review?

They help book buyers make decisions. Just as travellers check out Trip Advisor before deciding on a hotel, readers like to know what other people thought of a book before making a decision to buy and read.

If the book is by a self-published author, or published by an independent press, the writers have to do all their promotion and marketing themselves. Reviews from the reading public are an important and free helping hand.

The number of reviews on Amazon can help a book’s visibility. If you love a writer’s work and want others to do so, too, this is the best possible way of spreading the word.

Off we go, then! A few more pointers:

  • If you need any help with writing your review, do click on Rosie’s post.
  • A review can be short. Here’s an example of such a review for Disappearing in Plain Sight: DPS review
  • You don’t have to put your name to the review. Your Amazon ‘handle’ can be anything you like.
  • No writer expects all their reviews to be 5 stars or to say the book is the best thing ever written; there is a star guide on Rosie’s post that you can use to rate your reactions.

Spreading the word:

Would you like to tell the Twittersphere about your review? If so, tweet the link to it with the hashtag #AugustReviews – Terry Tyler will be doing one blog post a week featuring those links: An #AugustReviews Hall of Fame!

If you have a blog and would like to spread the word about #AugustReviews, please feel free to re-blog. Many thanks. We hope you will join the August review wave.

August Garden 2 - Guenette photo

How Marketing Can Smother the Creative Muse

Foxglove - Guenette photo

Not to be overly dramatic, but attention to a successful marketing strategy can quickly edge out every other thing in a writer’s life. For those without an iron will for the juggling of competing demands, to say nothing of boundless energy, I offer a few words of caution and few more of encouragement.

Dangerous waters sign - google imagesFirst the caution – we all like the bad news first, right? Hang in there with me, though. This bad news isn’t as bad as the sign to the left might suggest. Until a writer comes up with that successful formula for selling his or her books, the whirlpool of marketing sucks one down again and again. I have found, with my third promotion, a glimmer of hope that there is a way to ride the power at the edge of that whirlpool rather than being pulled down by the undertows and sneaker waves.

I’m talking about being able to market and write. After publishing four novels, I am familiar with the writing process and once I get going, I’m confident of how things roll along – writing, rewriting, editing, formatting, publishing. Up until recently, marketing has been an abyss of failure that I periodically threw money down because I had to do something. But as to having any recipe for sustaining and dealing with significant selling – I didn’t have a clue. Okay, maybe that is harsh. I had a mantra I repeated to myself – if you write it, they will come. Seemed a bit pie in the sky but it kept me going while I produced a three book series and a stand alone novel! I also made a commitment to giving my books time to succeed – I was in this for the long haul, writing books I believed in.

Turns out this little quote is true:

Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue – Andrew Davis

Along came my success with a BookBub promotion in late March and two moderately successful promotions to keep the ball rolling since then – one in mid-May (Free Kindle Books and Tips) and another just completed (Freebooksy and E-Reader News Today).

The time consuming charting and the compulsive checking of my sales and KENP page reads is definitely passing – somewhat like the way the symptoms of a bad cold let go their grip. In time, I predict I will do what has to been done for marketing and then let the stats take care of themselves. They will, you know – even if I’m not watching.

Encouragement sign - Google imageNow for the encouragement! If you have a series of books to promote, setting the first book in the series free and promoting it to a large number of people works. It costs money to do this but, in my case, the money has been well spent. Think of the words of Henry Ford. “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”

After my three promotions, Disappearing in Plain Sight has been downloaded onto 40,000 Kindles or reading devices with the Kindle app. Those kind of numbers make a difference for the halo effect of subsequent sales in the series; they matter for reviews – Disappearing in Plain Sight went from a modest 33 reviews on Amazon.com to 93; and those number help build an email list of involved readers who really want to know when the next book is coming out.

To immerse myself in a successful marketing campaign and sustain it long enough to get used to the process, is an effort akin to producing the first draft of a novel. And believe me, each endeavour has its own rewards. I never wrote the Crater Lake books because I thought it would make me rich. At the same time, I never wanted to go in the financial hole and have to subsidize my efforts from money hard earned elsewhere.

Though this emphasis on marketing may have wafted the smothering blanket over my creative muse for a period, she is pushing through and as I find the balance, I feel the voices of the Crater Lake characters clamouring for attention. They definitely have way more story to tell and expect me to get on with that telling.

Pink Daises - Guenette photo