A World of Stories

A friend of mine read Who She Was: A Sylvia Wilcox Mystery, and asked, “Where did you get the story?” I thought that was an odd question. From my mind, of course. Every day I see dozen of storylines springing from everyday events. For example, when I see a neighbor taking out the trash, casually wheeling their garbage can to the curb, I think, “What if they see something out of the corner of their eye? A faint, fast-moving flash of….something?” From there, the story can go in a million different ways, and based on how far the narrative goes, I may, or may not have a plot for a novel or short story.

My work in progress, Displacement, is a story that grew out of a single paragraph on the local news website. It was a story that most people probably skipped over. I read that one paragraph and thought, “What if…” And the “what ifs” spurred a narrative that I started jotting down in 2009. Now, in 2019, I have returned to that story to flesh it out. There are times when I get stuck, and my fingers cease to move across the keyboard, but when that happens, I need only to close my eyes and turn my mind to another dream world.

Creating stories is what I’ve always done. Even when I wasn’t writing down my tall tales, my days were always filled with fantasies and stories spun out of everyday occurrences. Wrapping myself in stories has helped me maintain a sense of wonder and the idea that everything is possible. When the ills of the world intrude with angry atrocities, I slip into my fantasy land.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t keep up with what is happening in the news. There are plenty of issues that need my prayers and action to help circumvent. I am still fully present in the quest to make the world a better place, but one can only take so much negativity. There is a time and place for escape. Luckily, I am an author, so I get to leave the strife of the world behind on a regular basis.

How do you use stories in your life? Do you allow your imagination to run wild? Don’t underestimate the power of a story. They can change your life.

The First Week in Review: Successes and Opportunities for Growth

I published my novel, Who She Was: A Sylvia Wilcox Mystery last Monday, July 8th. During the week, I reviewed my results, listened to a ton of author podcasts, and learned more about Amazon Select and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. I am keeping track of what strategies produce the best results. First, I have to make this clear. I do not intend to see a return on my investment for this first book, for at least a year. I also do not expect to see a livable income from my writing for the first 3-5 years. Becoming an independent author means that you are starting your own business. The 3-5 profitability timeline is more realistic than putting your book out and thinking that you are going to become an overnight success. With that in mind, the information I’m tracking is simply there to identify trends and strategies.

Kindle Select/Kindle Unlimited

Is Kindle Unlimited worth it? I know, all self-published authors are asking that question these days. Here is where I stand: It’s essential to get my name out into the world is more important than how much money I will make from it. I also plan on switching to more of a global publishing strategy, once I have some success in the Amazon market. So, I have enrolled my book in Kindle Unlimited Select. I am a new author and acquiring followers and people who enjoy my writing, is key to getting my career off the ground.¬†During the first week of being in Kindle Unlimited, over 1600 pages were read, the equivalent of three books and a few extra pages. The estimated royalties from pages read were a little over $6.00. The royalties are based on the Kindle Unlimited fund, so the rate at which the royalties accumulate changes throughout the month. That is something to take into consideration when you are looking at the pages read.

After the first 90 days, I will go wide with the distribution of my ebook. At that time, I will be able to reach a broader audience. I hope that I will have accumulated plenty of reviews by that time, and readers around the world will be willing to take a chance on me.

Free Promotion

I set a free promotion for my ebook for July 14th. Before the promotion began, I posted Facebook advertisements on pages that advertise free ebooks. I didn’t waste time blasting my personal Facebook page with information about the free promotion, but it was visible on my Facebook Author page. My parents, siblings, and close friends will buy the book if they haven’t already, but that is not the market I am interested in building. I need people-strangers-to take a chance on me.

107 people downloaded my book during the free promotion. I was able to get to number 17 on the bestseller list in the Private Investigator Mystery genre. I was elated!! There were also 4 downloads in the United Kingdom, 2 in Germany, and 1 in India. I was so excited! I hope that some of those free downloads will result in reviews and dedicated readers.

A final word on offering the book for free. The next time around, when I publish Displacement, I will provide Who She Was for free for the first three days after I release Displacement, which is actually a prequel. Reading every book in a PI series is typical behavior of mystery readers. For example, I have read every single book in Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series. Some books are better than others, and there are times when I get frustrated with main characters. Even so, I will definitely be preordering the next book, because I’ve been along for the ride since the mid-1990s, and I HAVE to know what Alex and Milo are up to. I also know from interacting with other mystery fans, that this is how we are. We will read an entire series, so if one book is free, we’ll take a chance on it, but there’s little doubt that we’re going to buy the next book in the series.

Sales

I ran a preorder, but as I mentioned before, I didn’t want to flood my friends and family on my personal email with information about my writing career. With that said, a preorder for an unknown author is more of a formality than anything else. While it only generated 4 sales, on the day the book was released, I received 4 more sales, and that helped boost my author and title ranking. The other bonus of setting up a preorder is that it makes it harder to back down. If you get cold feet, you can cancel it, but you won’t be able to post a preorder on Amazon for some time after that (I believe it is it a year). So, it is in your best interest to get that book uploaded and be prepared for your book launch.

Moving Forward

I spent some time writing last week, but I was not having much success. Yesterday, I printed off the snippets I have written on the next novel-33,000 word- and I began to read. This morning, I woke up, spent three hours at my online teacher assistant job, and in the middle of a virtual meeting, the rest of the plot came to me. As soon as the meeting was over, I talked it out with Bradley, and I had an outline completed within ten minutes. This was a significant breakthrough because the most important thing at this point, is to get another book out there, and that needs to happen within the next few months. So, that’s a little update on how things went this week. I’ll give another update at the end of the month.

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