R.S. Hunter

Science Fiction & Fantasy Author

Category: Publishing

The Exile’s Violin 3rd Edition in the Works

exile's violin 3rd edition cover banner

It’s been a little over a year since I wrote this post about the future of my Tethys Chronicles books. I needed that time to distance myself from the series and the ridiculousness of PDMI. (Seriously, I count myself lucky getting out when I did. It could have been much, much worse)

I used the past year to work on a few different projects. Unfortunately I haven’t sold any books or landed an agent in that time. But if I’m being honest, I don’t consider this time wasted at all.

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Some Publishing Announcements

The Exile's Violin

You might’ve noticed the warning on my The Exile’s Violin page saying the book will be out of print starting in September. This post is to explain a little more about why that’ll be the case and what’s going to happen moving forward.

My publisher recently announced that they are dramatically scaling back their operations (basically going out of business). As part of this process, the authors and myself were presented with a couple options:

  1. I could leave my novel in the publisher’s hands. It would remain for sale and everything would continue. I was also one of the special cases where I had a sequel under contract. The publisher would put that out at some point. The timeline for when that would happen wasn’t entirely established.
  2. Or any of us that weren’t being dropped outright could ask for all our rights to revert back to us and part ways with the company.

I took Door Number Two. Without getting too specific, I’m not entirely happy with the way my book came out, especially with regards to formatting, back cover design, and marketing. That’s why I asked for the rights to The Exile’s Violin and Terraviathan back.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next. All of my attention is focused on planning these last few crazy weeks before my wedding and honeymoon. I arranged it with my publisher that my book will stay for sale until after I get back from my honeymoon. After September 9th, the book will go out of print and the rights will be mine again.

I have a couple of options for what to do with the series once that happens:

  1. I can go full indie with the Tethys Chronicles series. That would give me complete control over the interior formatting, better formatting for the back cover of the print version, and no publisher to split royalties with. Going indie comes with its own challenges.
  2. Or I could shop the series around and try to find a publisher interested in reprinting the first book and picking up the essentially-done sequel.

Personally, the second option sounds a little more appealing. I like the collaborative process of working with editors and publishers, and I like the support they normally give you. With a potential move across the country on the horizon, I’m not sure trying to make it as an indie author (at least with this series) is something I’m prepared to do right now. I definitely don’t want to leave the series unavailable to potential readers for a long period of time!

It’s an uncertain time, but it feels full of opportunities! You know that old saying about doors and windows? It’s true in this case.

Thank you to all the people who bought or downloaded for free The Exile’s Violin. The fact that you’re reading the words I wrote means a ton to me. And if you enjoyed the book, rest assured you will get to read more adventures starring Jacquie and Clay. One way or another, you will get Terraviathan (and maybe even a third book!) in your hands.

The Free Book Experiment

Statistics for The Exile's Violin

Statistics! Everyone loves statistics! Or maybe it’s just the RPG and baseball fan in me. Let’s move on to the actual numbers.

Back on May 10th, I chose 3 free promo days for my novel with my publisher. I decided I wanted to make The Exile’s Violin free starting on the 20th because it was my birthday. Knowing that I couldn’t just make the book free and expect the downloads to pour in, I scoured the web and read several great posts that talked about how to capitalize your Kindle free days. Many of these posts also had lists of places for authors to promote their books. Their advice seemed easy enough to follow, so I did what I could and submitted my book to places that promote free Kindle books.

Submissions

Total number of places submitted: 16

Average lead time required: 4.7 days

Number of sites that took free submissions: 14 out of 16

Number of sites I paid for submission: 2 ($5 for one and $10 for the other)

BookBub: BookBub didn’t accept my book (no idea why), but it would have cost me $90 to be part of their Fantasy Listing. From what I’ve heard, BookBub is worth the price. This is all anecdotal of course.

Alright, those are all the places I submitted my book to. Next up is social media. I love Twitter and am on it all the time, so I knew I’d use that. I also decided to share my book on Facebook once during this period. I’m not on Facebook that often, and my Author Page has limited reach.

Buuut, being stupid, I decided not to make a bit.ly account to keep track of how many clicks my links got. I just did their thing for free. I could see during that same day how many people followed my link to my book, but that was it. Let’s just say that I tweeted about my book at least 2 times a day during the promo period, with different messages each time, to my approximately 870 followers.

Your mileage with Twitter and other social media platforms may vary. The important thing is to not spam people and to make it look like you’re trying to have a conversation. Post a link with no accompanying text or context won’t entice people to follow it. The same goes for tweets that look like this: “Download my free ebook! *link to said ebook*. Those will get you nowhere.

All the above setup before the promo took me maybe a couple of hours spread out over the course of two/three days. In the big scheme of things it was relatively painless and only slightly repetitive to submit my book to various sites. Most of the time spent came from reading their guidelines and figuring out which ones required a “donation” before they’d even look at your listing.

However it was all worth it when you look at the results.

Results

Total number of downloads: 4,311

Highest Position on the Free Kindle Books Chart: 84

Highest Position on the Free Science Fiction & Fantasy Chart: 5 (I think)

Highest Position on the Free Epic Fantasy Chart: 2

Highest Amazon Author Rank: 70,851 (May 21, 2013)

Biggest Jump in Author Rank: 111,286

Side note: I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take screenshots of my book’s rank at its highest. Amazon’s Author Central doesn’t track those kinds of stats. (If it does I haven’t figured out how to access them yet)

I don’t have any other free promo periods to compare my numbers with. I especially don’t have any data from a similar promo period with no publicity and sharing done in advance, so take these results with a grain of salt. However, I like to think that based on the chart positions and the number of downloads, when compared to how little time it took me, doing the legwork in advance paid off.

I’d also like to add that the Author Rank on May 21st is not the highest I’ve been in the past month. On May 24th, I hit 19,183. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what Author Rank is or what it means, but it feels good to see a chart with an upward trend.

Breaking the top 100 for Free Kindle Books was a really big milestone for me. The same goes for getting into the top ten on the more focused SF and Epic Fantasy lists. I don’t know if I’d categorize The Exile’s Violin as epic fantasy, but I’m not complaining. Considering I’m a no-name author with only one novel out there, this feels like a big deal.

What’s Next?

I’m not quite sure what comes next. I’m going to go back to ignoring my books position on the Paid Kindle Store chart (83,783 when I wrote this post). I’m also going to ignore my Author Rank again too. I will watch Amazon and see if my number of reviews goes up based on this promo. Let’s say 1% of those 4,300 people who downloaded my book actually read it. And then pulling numbers out of my ass, let’s say 10% of that 1% write an Amazon review. That’s four new reviews! It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it would go a long way toward The Exile’s Violin breaking twenty reviews. (Another personal milestone I want to reach)

I’m also going to pay extra attention to my sales this quarter. I want to see if I experience any residual bump from the free promo. I’ve heard other authors (all anecdotal evidence) say that they saw an increase in sales after they ran a promo.

I’ll also keep writing, and I hope to have Terraviathan out before the end of the year. Again from anecdotal evidence, I’ve also heard that running a free promo for the second book in a series can lead to an increase in sales of the first book. Or was it the other way around? Either way, having more books out there is better.

The next time I do a free promo I’m going to try and submit my book to even more sites. I plan on utilizing Facebook more too. Also I hope BookBub picks up my book next time. They passed on it this time. Even though they can get pricey, I’ve heard that using them is money well spent.

I hope this helps any of you who are planning to run your own free days on Amazon!

You Got a Book Contract, Now What?

Last night it really hit me that the process for getting The Exile’s Violin published is far from over. Over and over in my head I kept hearing myself say, “You got that contract. Now what?” I have a feeling that I’m not alone and many first-time authors are asking themselves that same question. So really, now what?

As a writer your job doesn’t end once the ink’s dry on the contract. It’s not all hookers and blow (that can come later if that’s your thing). You still have a lot of work left to do.

Usually what comes first is a round (or two or five) of content edits. Content edits are when an editor reads your manuscript and looks for problems with character development, pacing, plot, structure, names, and continuity. Usually things like spelling, grammar, and sentence structure are overlooked at this stage.

For the most part, this is where all the heavy lifting is done with rewrites and revisions. An editor will make you realize you spelled something one way in chapter two and three different ways in subsequent chapters. They’ll help make your characters more rounded and interesting. A good content edit can help turn a good book into a great book.

Great now that the revisions are done, your job as an author is done, right? Guess again Lazy McLazyperson! (See, a good editor would make a note that that’s not a very good character name) Now it’s onto copy edits and line edits.

I may not know all the semantics between copy edits and line edits, but I know that this stage is all about the words themselves. Now your editors go over your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb. They look for spelling mistakes, grammar, sentence structure, and a whole host of other things you probably weren’t thinking about. I’m an author! I throw words on the page and it’s art! Yeah, not always. Sometimes what you think is a wonderful, poetic sentence is just a gurgling mess of adjectives and dangling participles.

Well now the book’s edited and ready to be printed. Time for hookers and blow? Nope! Unless you have a contract with one of the big six, chances are you’re going to have to do some–say it with me–marketing! You got blog tours to arrange, reviews to solicit, blog posts, interviews, press releases, and animal sacrifices to the Marketing Elder Gods to make. Plus you gotta get busy writing that sequel!

As an author you may think your job’s done once you write the book, but it’s really just begun. And that’s what kept me awake last night. But with the proper planning and hard work, this process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. (It can just be regular whelming) I need to remind myself of that. Then maybe figure out who actually celebrates with hookers and blow. That’s a thing big celebrities do, right?

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