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Author: Karen Myers

Karen Myers is a fantasy and science fiction author, best known for her heroic fantasy novels. Her stories feature heroes in real and imagined worlds filled with magic, space travel, and adventure.

Amazon AMS Ads — A Test (Part 1)

Posted in Just for Writers

For about a year and a half I had a good run with basic AMS Manual Keywords ads — those ad farms of thousands of keywords. Then, in the fall of 2018, something significant changed at Amazon, besides just the AMS reporting system upgrade, and my ads which had been running at a smallish but steady profit basically stopped working well.

At the time, I didn't concentrate on the issue, content to spend several months working on getting my feet wet with Facebook Advertising while my AMS ads ran feebly in the background (at least I wasn't losing money on them). Let's just say that two separate attempts at Facebook product ads ended unsuccessfully and I shut them down to rethink my approach.

So, there I was in June with no effective advertising running and, let me tell you, that is no place you want to be. In the absence of any recent new release, my organic sales on my primary (1st-in-series) books are, at best, less than 1 per day.

The very visible effect of advertising (vs organic sales/new releases)

But there's an upside to poor organic sales numbers — they make a great background to test against for advertising!

Dothraki — what the creator has to say

Posted in Just for Writers, and Language

As the Game of Thrones series winds to an end, David Peterson (the creator of all the constructed languages on the series) comments on what it's like working with Dothraki and actors.

He was an inspiration when I first sought out conlangers to get help with language hints in The Chained Adept.

Watch and learn…

http://video.vanityfair.com/watch/game-of-thrones-language-inventor-reviews-people-speaking-his-languages-on-the-internet

Revising your plot

Posted in Characters, Just for Writers, and Plot

Whether you write to an outline, or churn it out by the seat of your pants, all of us are likely to come to a moment in the creation of a story where we are struck by a realization: if character X only did this instead of that, it would be so much better for the story.

How much trouble this causes you chiefly depends on how far along you are in the story at that point. It may cause you to revise your possibly painfully detailed outline, or it may force you to reconsider exactly where the story should be headed, if you're not confined to an outline, thus revising some of the highlights to come.

As a pantser instead of a plotter, I find this mostly happens to me when I brainstorm “what next?” for the moving boundary of the current words, but it can strike for older character actions, too, further back in the body of work.

I don't know about you, but my typical reaction when this happens is first elation (whoopee — an improvement!) followed by depression (look at all the changes I'm going to have to make to what's already been done and what is to come). Generally the former outweighs the latter, but I do have to get past the moment of deep despair at the work involved.

It could be worse. We could be George R. R. Martin.

Taking stock of 2018

Posted in Goals

It's time to look back on 2018 and take stock — what worked, what didn't, and where I spent my time.

Accomplishments

Feels like it all passed in a blur…

The first five months were consumed in followup activities following all the marketing work I did in 2017. That included:

* ONIX development. StreetLib had some technical woes, and altogether the process needed to be solidified before I could consider it reliable.

* Standardized deliverables. As part of the ONIX finalization, I tightened up the formalization of all my final output folders, with their various text, image, and marketing component content so that the loose assemblage of files for works-in-process had a clean transition point to rigid folders with standardized deliverable content. This has proved a great time-saver whenever I need to deal with ONIX data or distributors or marketing requirements, including my websites. With almost 30 titles now, order is a fundamental virtue.

* New covers for the Chained Adept series. Having lost that cover artist, I took a long look at the covers and decided I not only needed a new cover artist for the Affinities of Magic series, just starting, but might as well have him redo the Chained Adept series as well. I like the new Affinities of Magic series that he's been developing, and the Chained Adept got a visible boost from better covers. I even asked him to create an advertising image I could use for advertising for the Hounds of Annwn series.

* German translation. While I was in an investment mood, I decided to make my initial experiment with translation by finding someone to do the first book of the Chained Adept Series for the German market, where the SFF genre does well. I'm very happy with my translator — she has delivered the full manuscript, and I still have to go through it with my minor German and automated translation to make sure there's nothing odd about any of the results, before releasing it into the German market to see how it does. By then, I hope to have my Facebook Ads beyond the USA processes in decent shape.

* Publishing contracts/royalty reporting. A little after the fact, I completed the final version of a standardized publishing contract to use and got everything cleaned up for my first outside author. At the same time, I created the processes for tracking and reporting on royalties and payments for outside authors.

* Google Analytics. After several stumbles, I finally commissioned a decent tool for looking at the fate of my various UTM statistics for articles and other things.

Writing

Word Count 2018

Posted in Goals

Goal for fiction for the new year

2018 – 300,000

Blog posts

2018 – 33,172
2017 – 30,777
2016 – 43,429
2015 – 30,619
2014 – 34,214
2013 – 28,714
2012 – 18,347

Total – 219,272


Always good to know what the numbers say…

Words of fiction

2018 –   87,519
2017 –   94,891
2016 – 346,258
2015 – 119,593
2014 –   64,390
2013 – 210,470
2012 – 270,600

Total – 1,193,134

Advertising: you just gotta have it

Posted in Just for Writers, and Marketing

It used to be easier

Oh, for the halcyon days of 2012 and 2013, when your book going up on Amazon attracted eyes, especially since the categories weren't any too large.

I still have my souvenir of being #1 in a niche category.

It spoiled us for a while. We wrote as quickly as we could hoping to outrun the “tsunami of… stuff” rising up behind us. Some of us are still trying that as our primary method of coping.

I'd like to present some more sobering numbers.

And when I die…

Posted in Business, and Just for Writers

Image of steps for business succession planningAnd when I die,
and when I'm dead, dead and gone,
There'll be one child born in this
world to carry on,
There'll be one child born
to carry on.

–Laura Nyro

Let's talk about estate planning for independent-author/publishers. Not a fun topic, I know, but there's no point shoving our heads into the sand in the enthusiasm of the young indie-author revolution and pretending that we're going to live forever.

Business succession planning

All businesses face succession issues — who will take over for key managers and employees. In larger firms, this is just a normal plan, part of the annual review of the business's readiness to handle change.

Family businesses have additional challenges — what will be the role of the family members in the business once the founder dies or retires? Will they run the business, or will they just own it and let others run it? Will they sell it, and how?

A business is an engine for making money. Without the right people in place to make it work, or someone to sell it to, it falls apart.

We indie-authors/publishers are typically one-man businesses. We don't think in terms of key employees, since we haven't got any, but we are ourselves the key employee, and we need to make plans for what will happen when we are no longer able to run our business. And if we've managed to grow large enough to have actual employees, we have the same issues as any other small business. We need a business succession plan.

Broadening your business

Posted in Business, and Just for Writers

Chart of men building a business from the ground upResting on your laurels

You've climbed that first hill. Congratulations!

You've written a book or several, you've presented the world with a few well-written, well-formatted, well-edited stories, and you're settling into a world of writing, pleased that you've come some distance up the path from your initial indie panic at all the different skills you need (not least your writing skills).

Your pencils are sharpened and you're ready to really bear down on the writing process, now that you have a handle on it and know how your books will actually make it into the book retail trade, and who you can call upon for extra help when you need it for covers, etc.

STOP. WAKE UP.

What is it we find backward about traditional authors and author-wannabes? The notion that all they need to do is write, and someone else will take care of all that stinky stuff like marketing and all the business issues.

Is that what you want to do?

Don't forget — you're not an indie AUTHOR, you're an indie AUTHOR-PUBLISHER. You don't get to just disappear into your writing and hope that everything else can just follow the initial methods you've chopped out of your research for how-to-publish, as though that were something static and unchanging.

No, that's just the FIRST step.