The Literary Blog Hop

My bodacious blogging buddy at 52booksorbust.com is featuring A Murder in Mount Moriah as part of the first Literary Blog Hop of 2014. This will be the tenth Literary Giveaway Blog Hop (there are 3 per year). So far, they have been a great success, with between 30 and 70 participating blogs every time. So, if you like free books (and who doesn’t?), hop along to the participating blogs between now and February 12th, 2014. The nice thing about these giveaways, as opposed to Goodreads, etc., is that they are “curated” by expert book review bloggers, who certify the quality of the books they are giving away. Good luck, and happy hopping!

Is writer’s block real?

I was tempted to make this a one-word post. That word? Nope

But on further consideration, that nope might need a little bit of explanation. Writer’s block is, after all, so enmeshed in the popular imagination that even my 7-year-old has claimed to suffer from it. I have never believed in it myself. Sure, there are days when almost every word that appears on my screen is utter garbage. Sure, there are times when I’ve painted myself into a plot corner so tight that only a major rewrite can get me free. And of course, there are days when the prospect of writing seems so utterly horrifying or painful that I’d rather be doing almost anything than sitting down to write.

Fundamentally, though, I agree with the great Ann Patchett, who thinks that writer’s block is a form of procrastination. Patchett recently published a wonderful collection of short stories titled, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. My favorite is “The Getaway Car”, in which she describes how she came to be a writer. In it, Patchett describes people’s incredulity when she says that she never suffers from writer’s block, as well as their extreme defensiveness when she says that she thinks it’s a myth. 

Her secret is similar to the wisdom of the late Tom Clancy. When he was asked how to go about writing a novel, he would famously advise, “Just write the damn book.” You will encounter roadblocks, set backs, whole chapters that need to be scrapped. Your first draft will probably suck. Your second will probably suck, too. But fundamentally, the only way to get a book written is to sit down and write it.

There are those who would take issue with my argument; they would say that writer’s block is a very real, diagnosed form of anxiety. There are those, like Samuel Coleridge, who wait for the muse of inspiration to alight on their pen (or keyboard), and claim that once the muse departs, they are rendered incapable. 

I have great sympathy for these positions. However, I’ve always thought of writing like anything else. You may or may not have a natural talent, but either way, if you don’t put in the work, you’re gonna end up with nothing, or with junk. Did Martin Luther King start off delivering world-changing oratory? Probably not. Bill Gates probably spent a lot of time tinkering before he built his first computer. Did Dominique Dawes spring from her mother’s womb doing triple flips? For her mother’s sake, I certainly hope not. 

Anyway, you get the idea. You want to be a writer? Do the work. Even if it’s hard. Even if the first draft makes your eyeballs throw up. Just find a way to put words onto paper. 

Enough procrastinating for me! If you need me, I’ll be back at the grindstone, writing my damn book.

A Negative Amazon Review Didn’t Kill Me; It Made Me Stronger

Remember how I said that I was girding my loins for my first negative Amazon review? Well, it happened. An Amazon reviewer gave AMiMM 2 stars. Weirdly, the negative review was followed by a bounce in sales, two totally awesome reviews on Amazon, and several 4 and 5-star ratings on Goodreads. The Goodreads giveaway closed out with 800 entries, which was pretty great. I’ve resolved to do less marketing for awhile, and less obsessive checking of my sales figures. I probably like that side of things more than most writers, but I need to focus more on writing the next Lindsay Harding book, A Death in Duck, which I hope to publish in Summer 2014.

Also, for those who don’t regularly watch the Blacksburg-Christiansburg public access channel (which, I think I can safely assume, is all of you!), you can now view the 2013 Valley Voices competition winners on YouTube. My story comes on around minute 21.

Publicity from Goodreads giveaway

My Goodreads giveaway closes out on January 15th, so enter today!  https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/75303-a-murder-in-mount-moriah. So far, about 500 people have entered to win. The vast majority of those have added A Murder in Mount Moriah to their to-read lists, which, if those people also have the automated Goodreads feeds to Twitter or Facebook, could mean a whole lot of eyeballs looking at my book cover. I’m really curious to see how many of those will translate to sales. Presumably, people don’t buy the book during the giveaway period, in case they end up winning. I guess I have to hope that the “losers” will stumble across it on their shelves in a few weeks’ time, see the positive reviews, and buy a copy. In other news, I had a nice sales bounce last week when my fellow Little Spot for Stories author Nicole Loughan‘s series became a Kindle bestseller. It looks like a few dozen people checking out the Little Spot website picked up my book as well as hers. I think I also picked up some sales from my recent New River Valley Voices reading, the recording of which has been in heavy rotation on the local public access station.

Do KDP giveaways boost sales?

At the end of December, I ran a short freebie promotion for A Murder in Mount Moriah. I really can’t say whether it worked or not. I’ve continued to sell 1 or 2 copies of my book each day. Would my sales numbers have dwindled without the promo? Impossible to say. I did pick up a new review on Amazon.co.uk this week and a new rating on Goodreads. It’s always awesome to get positive reviews from strangers. I’m trying to gird my loins for the inevitable first negative review. I tend to think that people who would be attracted to a cozy murder mystery about a chaplain are slightly nicer people than, say, blood-and-guts sci-fi thriller readers, so hopefully it won’t be too cruel when it comes. I just can’t imagine some nice suburban grandma ripping me a new one on Amazon.

Anyway, I’d say unequivocally that KDP Countdown 99cent/pence promos work. Not sure about KDP freebies. The jury is also still out on the Goodreads giveaway. (My current giveaway ends on January 15th, so it’s too soon to tell.) I think all these things increase visibility, which can’t hurt. But clearly the Kindle Countdown is the only one that translates directly to money in your pocket.

Maybe not to free next time!

I gave away about 750 free Kindle copies of A Murder in Mount Moriah during my Christmas promotion. That was nowhere near the 1300+ that I gave away during the first promo in October, but about what I was expecting, considering my promo ran on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. However, my belief that the free promo would improve my ranking proved unfounded. I was hovering around 60,000 before the promo. Now I’m at 320,000! Bawh?? I’m still hopeful that it will increase my audience and result in a few word-of-mouth sales. In better news, I’m up to 200 entries in my Goodreads giveaway and almost 100 people have added it to their “to read” lists. Onwards and upwards!

To Free or Not to Free, That Is the Question.

My indie publishing guru, Nicole Loughlin of littlespotforstories.com, told me that it’s important to boost your Kindle/Amazon ratings in the run-up to Christmas in order to capture the interest of the many millions of shoppers who receive Amazon gift vouchers for Christmas. Once your books drops out of the top 100,000, you lose a lot of visibility vis-a-vis other books. (i.e. when someone searches “cozy mysteries”, I want A Murder in Mount Moriah to pop up in their search, and when they buy a cozy, I want AMiMM to pop up in Amazon’s  “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” suggestion bar). I’ve only sold 3 copies this week (!), so my book is lurking dangerously near that 100,000 mark. I therefore had to decide whether to run another $0.99 promotion or to do a few days’ giveaway. I’ve had modest success with both methods in the past. My book wasn’t eligible for another discount promo until January 20th, which I feared might be too late for that post-Christmas bounce, so I opted for a few freebie days. Ideally, this will generate a few post-Christmas sales and/or a boost in my visibility. It may also generate some new reviews, which are another big part of improving visibility. I’ll let you know what happens.

p.s. I’ve had 175 people register for my Goodreads giveaway during the first few days. Woot!

Top Ten Tuesday: Best New-to-Me Authors of 2013

My book reviewer friend, Tanya, is showin’ A Murder in Mount Moriah some love on her blog. Top Ten Tuesday: Best New-to-Me Authors of 2013. Exciting!

Holiday gift giving guide

My awesome friend, book blogger Tanya Boughtflower, featured A Murder in Mount Moriah in the ‘Light and Fun Mysteries’ category of her holiday gift giving guide! 

http://52booksorbust.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/the-gift-giving-and-getting-guide-2013/

I didn’t win, but someone awesome did!

Afraid that I didn’t win The Next Novelist competition. 😦 Thanks anyway for your votes! Despite my loss, I’m very excited that my personal favorite book (after A Murder in Mount Moriah, of course) did win. The Time Crystals is on sale now for only $5. Teresa Bassett is a super nice person, a great writer and a deserving winner! http://www.nextnovelist.com/bookdetail.php?bookid=99#.Up0AxsRzGSo