Something New

Alice is hosting a carnival, and this month’s theme is “something different.” This interests me because recently my life has taken a turn in a new direction. I’ve been a writer all my life, and finally, in the past few years, I found a publisher for my contemporary novels. I even started a series. Then, when I was almost finished with the second book in my series, something strange happened. I’ll call it intuition. Most people act on intuitive impulses at least once in a while, right? Or is it just me?

Following this inner guidance was difficult because it was anything but logical. Logic said I needed to finish that second book in the series, the book of my heart, the book that I’ve wanted to write forever and finally was writing, finally saw how it would end. So my head said, you’re just nervous. But you’re a professional. You know what you need to do. Get to work.

About this time, I became obsessed with an egg on Twitter. @gypsywriter was my first Twitter handle, and I’m sorry to say I abandoned it almost immediately for the story I was writing about a band of time-traveling Gypsys. I didn’t pick up Twitter again for another few years and when I did I chose a different handle. My real name, or close enough. No @gypsywriter for me. Still, I didn’t deactivate the account.

As @CynthiaHarriso1 gathered tweeps and spun tweets; @gypsywriter remained silent. She still remains silent. She cannot tweet. She can be followed but she cannot follow. She is an egg whose egg-ness cannot be rectified. For a few weeks, I asked people for help, I Googled, I tried things that had been suggested. Nothing worked. She’s an egg forevermore. Fine. I have a life beyond this egg thing. I have a perfectly fine Twitter feed sans the egg.

But this was enough of a wake up call to the Gypsy that had remained in a file for too long. I posted the first scene on my blog. I’ve been looking to change my blog anyway, and it seemed like a good way to revise. Scene by scene I did that for a few weeks. I even bought cover art that seemed to bring my book to life. Then it was Christmas and I put a link to my Word file on the blog as a holiday present to readers.

A few days ago, I went ahead and published Gypsy on KDP. The speed with which this happened surprises me even now as I sit here. I am also perplexed. Because Gypsy is a paranormal story and I write contemporary fiction with sprinkles of romance and humor. So, now what? Without quite knowing it, I have become an author who works in two distinct genres. I understand that not many people do that. It’s not smart in the business sense unless you are Nora Roberts or J.K. Rowling.

It’s like Stephen King putting out a book of poetry. Or Stephanie Meyer writing erotica. On a much smaller scale. Which is probably my saving grace. My work is not widely read. My name is not in any literary lexicon. I can get away with it. And I intend to, because I am always up for something new.

How I Got to #1 on Kindle

I’ve recently had the experience of five “free” days on Kindle. What this means is my publisher allows Amazon exclusive rights to my novel for three months, and in those months, I agree to give  my book away for free for five days. It’s a marketing thing. I am not good at marketing.

Also,  I’m deep into a semester of teaching college freshman how to write, so there’s not a ton of extra time to promote my other career as a writer.  Friends pitched in with advice. One said I should RT (retweet) more. Another said I “must” buy a Book Bub ad. The Wild Rose Press publicist gave me a three page list of websites to contact for free and paid promotion.

I did some of this, but not everything. Teaching takes priority when I’m working the day job. No way could I publicize the way I needed to. This realization gave me new respect for how hard authors and publicists have to work to get noticed in the e-book market. 

I love Twitter, so it was easy to RT and tweet a bit more every day the month of September. My free days were October 1-5, so I front-loaded the increased Twitter time. Not a problem. Like I said, Twitter is fun for me. Some reviewers and bloggers, (Big thank you Rosie Amber, Bodicia, and Melissa Snark) offered to host me on their websites. I didn’t ask, they generously offered, which was a bonus, because I really don’t like asking for things. Especially free publicity. Writing guest posts and answering interview questions are fun. I love to write, be it tweet or blog post or novel.

The only thing I don’t love to write is the begging letter, in which I ask for favors. I don’t even like to ask my friends to buy my book. But giving it away for free, that I like. I asked Book Bub to consider advertising Blue Heaven, and they agreed. I paid them to advertise my book because I didn’t have time to do everything myself. Their fee was about equal to two hours of teaching pay. Worth it.

The day before Blue Heaven went “free” I checked my stats. Blue Heaven had been out for a month and was at approximated 600K on the paid lists. My stats in the “free” realm were decent. Nothing to get too excited about. I got up to #125 in romance and somewhere close in contemporary novels while hovering in the low thousands for all free books.

Book Bub publicized my novel on October 5, my last free day. After Book Bub stepped in, Blue Heaven shot to #1 on all three free lists: #1 Kindle Top 100. #1 Romance novel. #1 Contemporary novel. Woo hoo.

The day after the free spree my stats went up and down, but I’ve gotten several new reviews and stayed for a bit in the Top 100 “paid” Romance category. My “free” adventure, because that’s what it felt like, was a blast. I’d do it again in a minute. And if you’re a reader, keep checking those free Kindle lists. You might find a new favorite author.

*First published on Melissa Snark’s Snarkology