Week by Numbers.

Guess who’s back, back again?

So, I’ve been a wee bit busy since we last checked in.

  • 2nd, draft of Under the Rain of Light.  In it I went from 77,727 words to 77,361.  This sounds so unbelievably minor, but I changed the order of chapters, added and removed plot lines and made countless other changes.
    • Spoiler alert, I still hate the book, which is why…
    • I’m going to work with a developmental editor.  This is a first for me, but I know it’s the right decision.  I’ll be sending the book to her in the next week or two.
  • ALL, the procrastination.  (See, Courtney’s anxiety about submitting articles.)
    • My procrastination usually presents itself in the form of cleaning/organizing, hence why I’ve deleted 1,500 photos from my iCloud.
    • 0, articles submitted from our recent trip.  😦
  • 1, private island visited.  Hubs and I had the opportunity to stay the Four Seasons at Desroches Island (simply incredible).
    • 3, private beaches we encountered during our stay.
    • 1, bottle Takamaka consumed.
    • 1, amazing bike ride.
  • 1, new website started (I’m working on a new social experiment of sorts — announcement soon).
    • 6, episodes we’ve recorded for the podcast accompanying this.
  • 1, walk on the beach this morning – a great start to the weekend!
    • 2 friends, we saw in the process.
    • 7, kitties we saw.
  • 18,781, words into the 2019 book (working title, 20 Year Reunion).  It’s a bit of a late start for me, but the Heist has taken up more time than I thought it would.  Ready to get back into original writing – it’s been awhile!
  • 1, article I wrote May of last year that’s finally come out (don’t worry, I already received payment for it).

What have you been up to?

YA Scavenger Hunt, Spring 2019!

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the RED TEAM — but there is also a blue team, a gold team, an orange team, a red team, and an indie team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the red team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
 
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by , at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
Today, I am hosting Vicki Leigh on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!

Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio, and considered being sent to her room as an opportunity to dive into another book. By the sixth grade, Vicki had penned her first, full-length screenplay.

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

Before we get into the exclusive cover reveal of HOLD ME TIL THE END, let’s learn a bit more about the book, shall we?

The end of the world begins.

On Saltum Island, Daniel and the others wait for Bartholomew to return from the Clandestine while Kayla attempts blood spells to try to get a lock on Apollyon’s location. But even with her powers at full capacity, nothing is working. Then Bartholomew returns with news from the Angels: they refuse to interfere—but one has handed him an angelic book of spells, with which Kayla can do so much.

As Kayla pushes her power to the edge to decipher the book, Daniel and his comrades roam the now-famished United States, offering survivors protection and shepherding them to bunkers in preparation for their final battle. Then Kayla deciphers an angelic spell that leads the team to an overwhelming number of demons and Nightmares—and a horrific discovery: Apollyon plans to use Kayla as the horseman of Death.

Knowing Apollyon will move quickly now that Kayla knows the truth, Daniel keeps the team on the run, afraid to stay in one place too long for fear they will become easy targets. But when Kayla begins to lose control of the darkness inside her, it’s only a matter of time before she becomes the weapon Apollyon created her to be—a force so powerful, she will raise Lucifer from the gates of Hell. Daniel must make a choice: stop the girl he loves at all costs, or watch her level the earth.

And today, in a first for me, I’m so proud to reveal the cover for Vicki’s Dreamcatcher #3, HOLD ME TILL THE END.  This novel will be available later in 2019.
And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Courtney Brandt, and more!  Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the Red Team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

SECRET NUMBER

To enter, you should know how much I love the number 17.  It’s my birthday, and St. Patrick’s Day, so it’s always been lucky to me (hopefully it will be lucky to you as well). Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the Red Team and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To continue on your numerical hunt for a jackpot of books, you’ll want to check out the next author on Red team, the marvelous Brendan Reichs.  (Also,  just because the Red team is so fantastic, here’s all the books you could win — including one of mine!)

 

Sunday Sentence.

She felt, as she did most mornings, the deep pleasure of daily life distilled to the essentials: books, walks, spaces in which to think and work.

Home Fire: A Novel

Kamila Shamsie

Another one from my current book club novel.  I’m…not a super fan of this book.  While the writing was beautiful, I’m not sure if the construction of the story worked.  Very curious to see what everyone else says in a week!

Sunday Sentence.

“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,” says Tunde in his voiceover report, because he’s been reading about revolution, “but to be young was very heaven.”

The Power, Naomi Alderman

We’re reading this for our book club this month.  Lots to discuss, but overall a super interesting book!

Week by Numbers.

Hello again.  Some numbers, yes?

  • 1, spayed dog.  Our little foster was finally cleared to be fixed and is recovering in her little wee shirt.
    • 2, janky teeth pulled while she was under.
    • 2, times she got out in the past week (causing near heart attacks for me- thank goodness our neighbors are amazing).
  • 77,502, words.  I’m back to finish up the final second draft of the Louvre.  After a month hiatus, I’m straight up reading the book and cutting quite a bit (let’s not get started on some of the bigger edits that still might need to occur.
  • 18,186, words on 2019’s novel.  While I thought I was going to pick up A.U. (now titled Counterfactual), instead I’ve decided to work on a total chick lit/rom com book, with the working title, 20 Year Reunion.
  • 1, massive flu that refuses to die.  That will teach me for not getting the flu shot.
  • 1, agency I (think?) I’ve signed with.  Yes, we discussed Persian translations of my work…
  • 1, school visit I have scheduled for next week, in conjunction with EAFOL.
  • 2, podcasts I’ve recorded for an upcoming 2019 project.
  • 0, dirhams we managed to negotiate from our jerk landlord of this year’s rent.
  • 2, collaboration dinners I’ll be attending in the next week.
  • 1, deprivation tank I soaked in.
  • 0, travel plans for the year so far… Signs are pointing to Seychelles and Zanzibar.
  • 1, article placed with Curiosity Magazine (let’s hope it actually gets printed).

Hope your February is off to a great start!

Facebook Ad Management: Some Lessons.

Another day, another attempt at marketing my books, another fail…

I was feeling particularly optimistic at the start of 2019, and seeing a deal on a reputable, trustworthy Facebook group for authors that I have been a member of for over a year, I jumped at the opportunity to have someone manage my Facebook ads.  Having seen multiple authors achieve decent success in upping books sales and pages read, I decided to give this avenue of marketing a chance.

A bit of background – I have run Facebook ads in the past (usually in conjunction with the holidays) and have had decent CPC (cost per click) ratios.  Additionally, I have Amazon (or AMS) ads running passively, and have done so for over a year.  The cost for Amazon ads is relatively cheap, and does transfer into sales now and again.

So, let’s get into where the failures occurred.

I signed up blindly.  I did little to no research, other than recognizing the person whose company this is a USA Today best-selling author, and I have seen them in similar YA Facebook groups for a year.  In the world of self-publishing and these sorts of things, word of mouth is almost always the way to go, and I wish I would’ve asked around.

I had no goals.  Just saying ‘I want to sell more books’ is not a quantifiable goal.  I didn’t ask exactly how many books would be sold, or what sort of returns I should expect.

I did not communicate up front (although, neither did this company).  I didn’t outline my expectations, goals anything.  Of course, the basic ‘sell more more’ I thought (perhaps naïvely) was implied.

Bearing this in mind – why I was paying for this service – is that they are meant to be experts on creating Facebook ads that drive potential customers to your books.  That’s the point of it.  I’ve tried creating and running ads in the past, and honestly, a few of mine have done better than what happened.  So, in the first few days, I’m not sure what I expected – but I thought sales might go higher than say, 3 sales (actual numbers).  Apparently, a fact I only learned after the ads were started was how we were apparently targeting KENP (that’s Kindle Unlimited pages).  Which was never communicated to me.  So I reached out and asked why my sales were so low.

So, some tweaks were made to the ads, which had little to no impact.  I tried again to mention this and while I should’ve been up front about asking for a refund (which is what I was expecting), and was offered another month of ad management.  Even after following up again, a week later, with funds committed, I sighed and chalked up this misadventure to another failure in the story of my journey as an author.

I disclosed my disappointing numbers at the end of the month, and the only response was: “We set up a bunch of ads for February which are running now, still within your ad spend budget. So, keep in mind, that wasn’t much money in ad spend. Obviously, the bigger your ad spend the bigger your reach is.”

*facepalm*

Overall, how did my sales look for the entirety of their ‘management?’

55 – total books sold

7,600 – total pages read

1 – new review

Have you had a positive experience with a company who manages social media (specifically successful book ads on Amazon)?  If so, I would love to know!

I’m not going to publicly name the company I worked with – if you’re very curious, please feel free to contact me directly and I’ll be happy to discuss who I worked with.