Finished Writing Book 3!

Holy cow. I did it! I finally finished writing the third and final novel in the Danethrall Trilogy! By “finished”, I mean I’ve completed writing the manuscript and now it’s time for a few rounds of reading, editing, rereading, and yet more editing before sending it off to be read and edited by a couple more pairs of eyes, considering and making recommended changes, etc, etc, etc.

I was hoping to have this book finished, edited and published in 2020 – at this point it’s looking like it won’t be published until early 2022 if I’m lucky. Still, step one is done and I’m choosing to focus on current accomplishments rather than the past.

It’s time to start thinking about a name for the novel – after that, I can work on designing a cover while the manuscript is being looked over.

I’m feeling a mixture of emotions – I’m ecstatic and relieved to finally finish writing this novel, but I’m sad, too. I intended for this series to be a trilogy, and now the trilogy is done. This is it for this story. Once the rest of the editing and refining processes are done, it will be time for me to say goodbye to these characters. Very bittersweet.

Ad Campaign Results

My campaign finished two days ago and, I’ll be honest, I forgot it was running until this evening. I did a quick look and here are the results: my books received a total of 648 impressions – high five, they were displayed 648 times so possibly at least that many people saw them! Woo! Unfortunately, my books were only clicked a total of 3 times. Specifically, Danethrall was clicked on – the eBook twice and the physical once.

Below is a screenshot of where the clicks came from – surprisingly, I had ZERO clicks from when my books were advertised at the top of search, which I was not expecting at all. That position is supposedly prime real estate and it did literally nothing for me.

(***Press the CTRL button and scroll on your mouse wheel to zoom in to view the screenshot. I didn’t realise how tiny the images would turn out. My apologies! – GSKT***)

That wasn’t even the most surprising part of this campaign. The thing that shocked me were two of the search terms that led to clicks. Have a look for yourself.

Wow-wow-ooh-wah!

I put ‘erotic’ and ‘sex’ in the keywords because of the steamy, graphic sex scenes in the books. These books are by no means in a million years erotic novels but I figured that people who are searching for erotic books aren’t going to be put off by graphic sex scenes. My books definitely don’t match those latter two search terms at all, so I understand why the readers didn’t purchase the books. I appreciate the clicks though – much love. ❤

All in all, interesting results. May not have led to any purchases but I am trying again. I know I said I’d change the costs of keywords and muck about with the second campaign in my previous post, but I was too lazy this evening. I copied the previous campaign and am running it for another week (tonight until the 25th).

Cross fingers things pick up a bit! Maybe on the 25th I’ll run a third campaign and actually increase the cost per keyword and see if that will boost the views and clicks. Until then, we’ll wait and see.

– GSKT

Amazon Advertising Campaign

2021 has been a bad year for business – and I mean bad. I’ve sold four books since 1st January 2021 to now (1st October 2021). Four. In the same time frame, only 3717 KENP pages have been read – that’s roughly a quarter of the usual pages since 2018.

(For those who don’t know, KENP stands for Kindle Edition Normalised Pages where some of my earnings are determined by how many of my books’ pages are read.)

Have some pretty charts to see why I’m a sad panda.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screenshot-199.png
The last 90 days worth of sales (aka Units Ordered) and KENP read for my novels.
Mar 2018 – Oct 2021 KENP

Pretty abysmal, amiright?

After having a whine on Twitter and feeling rather sorry for myself, I realised that for the entirety of 2020 and 2021, I’ve written possibly two chapters on the still-as-yet-unnamed final novel in the Danethrall Trilogy. Other than sharing a few posts on Twitter and uploading a picture or two on Instagram, I’ve literally done nothing to promote/improve/market my novels, so the fact I’ve made sales (even minimal sales) and had any type of KENP read at all are things I should be grateful for, not whine about.

To try and rectify my situation (not to mention, be proactive) I decided to create my first campaign on Amazon Advertising.

I’ve always been quite afraid of ad campaigns – I could end up spending a bunch of money and get zero results in return. But realistically, if I’m grazing the bottom of the barrel anyway, what harm will it do to sink some money into my books and hopefully bring about better results? I like my books – I like writing! – so why not invest in my novels?

Campaign Details

I set a budget of just over $16 USD for a week long campaign. Not a lot, but, as I pointed out before, I’m a chicken when it comes to spending money. If I see positive results from this campaign, I intend to run another with a larger budget, but until then I only want to dip my toes in. Chances are I’d get better results with a larger budget, but I’m doing only what I feel comfortable with, first.

Anyway. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and read a lot of tutorials and this is what I decided to do:

Market: Amazon.com (US)
Dates: 10th October – 16th October 2021
Daily Budget: $2.34 USD
Default Bid: $0.35 USD
Targeting: Manual targeting
Campaign Bidding Strategy: Dynamic bids – down only
Adjust Bids By Placement: Top of search (first page) +10%. Product pages +0%

If this campaign is successful, I’m going to play around with increasing the ‘top of search (first page)’ bid up to +50%, possibly immediately, possibly over the course of a few campaigns. First page top of search is the golden position, it’s where I’ll get the biggest audience, so upping my budget, default bid and adjustment percentage will help me get to that spot, and hopefully increase my reader audience.

Keyword Targeting

My budget is low, so the money I want to spend on keyword clicks is low too.

Broad terms: $0.21
Phrases: $0.28 USD
Exact: $0.28 USD or $0.35 USD

I used two prices for the exact matches – $0.28 USD for exact matches WITHOUT a suggested bid, and $0.35 USD for matches WITH a suggested bid. The reason why I did this was because the exact words/phrases with a suggested bid were a lot more popular with much higher suggested price ranges than the ones without a suggested bid. It made sense in my head, so that’s what I went with.

For a list of the keywords, please visit my Keywords page (titled Historical Fiction Keywords under the Extras category in the menu). I did NOT use all of the ones listed, but I did use a lot of them.

I only had two broad termsDanethrall and Rise To Fall. I had 144 different keywords/phrases that I used for both the phrases and exact categories, which brought my total to 290 keywords.

Please cross your fingers for me and wish me luck! Hopefully I’ll be back with good news at the end of the campaign.

GSKT

PS- I dyed my hair blue, what do you think?

Me with light blue hair 🙂

Book Reviews

Please click the following titles to leave a review for DANETHRALL or RISE TO FALL on Amazon. 😀 They will take you directly to the review pages for each book.

Book reviews really help indie authors get their books noticed. The more reviews my books receive, the better placement I will get in Amazon’s algorithm. Not to mention, I’d love to hear what you thought about my books! Who did you love? Who did you hate? What was your favourite part? You can even just leave a picture of you and the books! 🥰

To leave a review on Bookbub or Goodreads, follow the links of my Linktree to get to whichever website you’d like to post on.

Thank you so much!

Book Marketing and Social Media

Book marketing is by far the hardest part of the book process. I’ve struggled with it since the moment my first book was done. A lot of my issue is finding an audience. If I want to be more successful, I need to find a way of getting my books out in front of more people. I need to find my readers, I need to interact with them. Enter social media – and all the woes that come with it.

When I was a young teenager, it was easy to navigate social media. First of all, there was only one that mattered, the almighty MySpace. Eventually Facebook showed up and, though everyone signed up to it in 2008, no one actually used it until a couple years later – then it wiped MySpace out. In MySpace’s golden years, it was no problem getting thousands of “friends”, reaching out to people across the globe, finding someone who had the same interests as you and speaking together in ease immediately, though you had never met in person before. To this day I think I still have a few friends from MySpace on my personal Facebook page.

Nowadays, it’s different. Nowadays, there are too many social media websites to keep on top of. Which one do I sign up to? All of them? Twitter seems to be the leader right now, but I just can’t crack it. Honestly, I don’t really like it (most probably because I can’t figure it out). When I was a teen, I’d write any old rubbish and post it. Now it takes me FOREVER to think of something to write – witty or not. Where I used to be able to reach out to strangers across the globe, I’m brave enough to whack the heart button and that’s it.

If I want to be a successful author, if I want more readers, I need to crack social media. That’s the going advice all over the internet that all the “successful” advisors are advocating for, and I can see the truth in it, of course. On the other side of the coin, rather than fretting about social media and writing posts for each of them, I could be pouring that energy into my books.

With bare minimum marketing (if any), sales are trickling in, pages are being read. Is there any need to have a Twitter? Is there any need to fret over social media presence? I’ve only published two books so far, the Danethrall Trilogy isn’t complete (and probably won’t be until 2022 at this rate). Part of me feels like, until I’ve at least completed the final installment of the Trilogy, I shouldn’t worry about establishing an audience – not yet.

If you’re an author, traditionally published or independent/self-published, at what point did you try to establish an audience? Did you let it grow organically or did you do a hardcore social media campaign? Did you pour your savings into advertisement websites or just let your book do its thing on Amazon? If you use social media, which do you prefer? Which do you get the most interaction from?

Good riddance 2020

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? I’m not the best at blogging in general, but I’ve been particularly bad as of late. This year has just been so crazy, the world was flipped upside down. A lot of plans didn’t pan out this year, not just for me but for everyone. Unfortunately, I didn’t get as much writing done as I would’ve liked – I intended to have the third book of the Danethrall Trilogy out this year and that didn’t happen. Unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2019, my uncle died after an accident, and we lost a dear friend to a heart attack. In 2020, my husband’s stepdad died from Covid 19. I’m thankful to live near my husband’s family, they have always been wonderful and welcoming to me, but these deaths have reminded me how difficult it is to live so far from my family, and the friends I grew up with.

My family has always been spread out. I have family not just in England, but Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Japan and Thailand, as well; on top of the American family I inherited by marrying my husband.

Due to the distance, I can’t say I was ridiculously close to my family – not like how close my husband is to his. All of them have lived in the same neighbourhood all their lives, all just a stone’s throw from each other. Obviously, they’re very close because of this.

Regardless of the fact I’ve always lived so far from my family, my heart aches for them – in fact, I think it aches a little bit more because I’ve never had that tight-knit bond. We love each other a lot, and I’m sad that my children don’t know them. 2020 was meant to be the year we could travel to the UK and introduce our children to my family, but obviously it was not meant to be.

I’m trying to find silver linings.

In July 2019, my husband moved back home after living away in different states for work for around two years. Those years he was away were hard, the children and I only saw him one or two weekends a month if we were lucky, and at one point we went four months straight without seeing him at all. The 2020 lockdown meant he had to work from home, which was so welcomed after he was gone for so long. The children began homeschooling in March (which was chaos unto itself), but all six of us were together at home, and that is wonderful.

There’s no end in sight for this lockdown, the children might be returning to full-time school at the end of January, depending on how everything goes in Michigan, but a large part of me doubts that. Either way, I’m thankful we’re together, even if all six of us are miserable about homeschooling, haha.

Another silver lining; I found a new hobby during all this. With the craziness of the current atmosphere, I haven’t been able to focus and write. Instead, I got lost in video games – an escape, to be sure. Ignoring the outside world and immersing myself in a virtual one. My best friend and I started streaming the games we played together, which has been great in so many ways. The biggest way is being able to spend time with her doing something we enjoy, despite being on different sides of the US.

She and I met on my 14th birthday and were inseparable from then on. We started working and living together when we were eighteen, a blissful time I look back on with so much love in my heart. Despite multiple moves and miles between us, we’ve always found a way to stay close. Maybe it was fate, but maybe a year after I moved to the US in 2014, she moved here with her husband – an amazing happenstance even though we were many states away. We celebrated 15 years of friendship this year – an incredible milestone, one I’m so lucky and thankful for.

This post ended up being a lot more depressing [and much longer] than I intended.

Honestly, we’re doing fine. We have a roof over our heads, food in the cupboards, wonderful pets to snuggle with, and of course, each other. I think the biggest lessons 2020 has taught us is to be thankful for what you have, to not take your relationships (romantic, friendships or family) for granted, to know that tomorrow might not come for some, but even through the bad times, you will make it through – it doesn’t matter if you make it through on your feet or if you have to claw yourself through it, you’ll still make it.

Good riddance, 2020. You were as much of a bitch as your predecessor.

Long time no see

It’s already the end of June – it’s been over three months since I last posted. I’m sorry for the silence. I’d like to say I’ve been busy typing away put since the world got flipped upside down, I don’t think I’ve managed to type more than a paragraph. I really admire [and am a little bit jealous] of the authors who have been able to use quarantine time to whack out reams of pages – I wish I was one of them. Between homeschooling and entertaining my children, and getting used to this new ‘normal’, I just haven’t been able to write.

I am back, though. I’m aiming to get writing again and finally finish the Danethrall trilogy. The third and final book is still without a name, but there are just a few chapters left to type before it will be ready for the editing process. Cross fingers it will be published this year.

How have you been handling the quarantine? If you’re an author, have you been able to write or have you been at a stalemate like me? If you’ve had problems, how have you overcome them? – GSKT

Another day in the life of an indie author who has no idea what she’s doing.

With this coronavirus craziness going on, I haven’t had that much time to write even though I’ve been cooped up in the house. With the children’s school shut down, I’ve been busy homeschooling and playing with them and by the time evening comes along, I’m too tired to write.

I have been able to snatch moments on my phone to check my email, Facebook, etc, and even a few chances to do some researching. I’ve been looking into promoting and marketing, and one thing that is constantly recommended is starting a mailing list – so I dragged my happy butt over to Mailchimp (the most popular and frequently recommended site on all the indie author webpages and help sites).

How did that go, you ask? Terribly. I signed up for the free account and found myself completely lost. After bumbling through the process and attempting to craft my first email, I gave up and deleted my account. I’m going to try again later this evening.

I’m pretty sure I know where I went wrong – there was a portion of the sign up process where you answer a 60 second questionnaire to give Mailchimp an idea of what you want your account for. I must’ve answered a question wrong or something because the account they set up seemed more fitting for an online store rather than an author website. :/ With that in mind, I’ll be sure to change my answers when I try again.

In other news, I gave away twenty ePub copies of Danethrall today via the website “Voracious Readers Only”. I’m hoping to garner a few readers and possibly even a few reviews. As I’m sure you’ve heard me harp on about before, reviews are really important to indie authors. Don’t worry, I’m not planning on going on another rant as to why. 😉 Haha!

Anyway, now I’ve got that all off my chest, (the Mailchimp thing made me really frustrated – can you tell?), how are you surviving the coronavirus isolation? – GSKT

PS – It was my daughter Romilly’s birthday on Monday. She turned the big 5! Here’s an adorable picture my friend took of her blowing out the candles at her birthday party.

Romilly getting ready to blow out her candles on her birthday cake.

Rise To Fall on Booksprout

I uploaded Rise To Fall onto Booksprout today. There are 20 copies available to read for FREE until 31st March 2020 [since posting, there are now 19 copies available]. The only caveat is that you please leave a review 🙂 That’s it! Simply sign up to Booksprout as a reader (if you aren’t already), and download the ARC. You get a free copy of Rise To Fall and when you’re done reading, please leave an honest review.

Click here to visit the Rise To Fall Booksprout page! Link will open in a new tab.

Rise To Fall has been published for a while, so even though it’s listed as an “ARC” [Advance Review Copy] it really isn’t. I’m hoping to garner some more reviews for it. As I’ve said many times before, reviews are really important to authors – especially us indie-published ones.

  1. Reviews offer more exposure and publicity.
    The book industry is quite a saturated market. A book with plenty of reviews gets noticed by potential readers more than a book with no reviews.
  2. If a book has 50 or more reviews Amazon will list the book in newsletters and other promotions.
    Obviously this is very beneficial to the author. It helps widen the author’s audience and will possibly increase their sales.
  3. A lot of readers rely on reviews to decide whether they will enjoy the book or not.
    Leaving a review not only helps the author, but also the readers. Your review might help someone find their next favourite book or they might decide the book isn’t for them and you’ll save them time and money.

Reviews can be as detailed or as simple as you want, a simple sentence or five paragraphs, it’s all up to you. Regardless of how much you decide to write, the time you spent writing is appreciated. If you have read Danethrall or Rise To Fall, I would LOVE to receive a review from you.

You can leave a review on the following pages (each link opens in new tab):

– GSKT