Lessons learned and plans for 2014
This New Year's Eve has me preparing Secrets & Sins for epub, hopefully on Friday the 3rd. I missed the fall, missed Christmas week, and missed 2013 entirely. This will be the last time I roll out a book so haphazardly.
At the time I published the prequel to this eBook, Sinner Man, in late October, I planned to have Secrets & Sins published by late November/early December. It was coming along nicely. But then things started to happen...
In early November we took a vacation to Florida to celebrate my niece's engagement and my mother's 95th birthday. Mom had recently tripped and sprained her ankle, so she was using a cane and walking very slowly. She flew up to spend a month with us a few days after we returned home. Normally during my mom's visits, I keep her active by bringing her to the Y a few times a week for her low-impact workout, during which time I would work on my book (I have since joined the Y myself, so I figured I would work out while she works out, but of course with a sprained ankle she wasn't working anything. She also enjoyed cooking, dusting, vacuuming, and other housework, most of which were also out of the question due to her injury...she needed to spend most of her time with her foot elevated so the swelling would go down. Because she was bored, she asked me to take her shopping...every couple of days. Naturally I did as she asked. I pushed her around the stores in a wheelchair for entire afternoons at a time, and in the process I saw my writing time diminish...I sometimes went two and three days without writing a word and realized I was looking at possibly mid-December.
Mom went home on December 7th. That same day we went out of town to attend a party, because we both needed some fun time. The day after we returned there was a death on my husband's side of the family. The funeral was not being held in their hometown in northwest Indiana (just two hours from us), but in Indianapolis, which is four hours and in a different time zone. Because of snow, we left the day before and stayed until the day after. I brought my laptop with me but got precious little work done those three days. I told myself that maybe I could get it published by the winter solstice on the 21st.
That didn't happen, either. I was busy baking cookies to send to our various family members all over the country, which I hadn't had time to do with two consecutive weekends of travel, as well as getting gift cards and preparing packages.
The last weekend in December was my husband's birthday, and it meant a trip out of town (this trip was, at least, planned for). I am finally winding down my work on Secrets & Sins. I've been getting emails almost daily asking when this book will be published, and I know I'm running out of time; readers will lose interest if they can't read it soon.
I am, therefore, changing the way I roll out a book.
- I will not publish a prequel until the main book is finished and in the editing stage, so that there will not be any more than four weeks between the publication of the two. Readers shouldn't be kept waiting two months or more.
- I will try to do "Hollywood" style releases, i.e., like the movies. Movies are completed months before they are actually released, and there are promos, coming attraction, advance screenings, etc. type of media attention/advertising to build interest and help get the word out. By the time it's released the next movie is being filmed. Substitute "books" for "movies," and "written" for "filmed," and there's my plan.
- At the very least (if the above isn't practical), I will have the book completed for two to four weeks while I give advance reviewers a chance to read and get their reviews completed and ready to post.
- I will continue to release my eBooks on Fridays, until I make a determination of whether or not this makes a difference (my last release was a free prequel, so there's nothing to gauge). My gut just tells me this is worth experimenting with.
- The release date I announce will be for my eStore only. I cannot control what Amazon and Barnes & Noble do. On the other hand, I have never had a problem with my eStore. I can upload the book prior and simply not announce the link until I'm ready. My eStore pages do not include publication dates. Books sold through my eStore will be discounted by at least $1 (because my earnings are higher there, I will still be making more money for sales here than from sales at eTailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble).
- No more uploading to Smashwords unless it's a book I want to offer for free. Readers with Sony devices or who need PDFs can order from my eStore. I just don't need them anymore.
- I will upload the book file after midnight Pacific Time, so that the publication date I've advertised matches the publication date that shows on the product page (a personal idiosyncrasy of mine; I honestly don't think anyone but me cares about this one).
Back to my edits/polishing. Join me tomorrow for a look at what readers can expect from me in 2014.