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Progress Report 2022 Week 15

It’s been a busy week. I attended the School of Life Experience with classes in How Not to Build an E-Mail List. I learned something critical about writing — something I knew at one point thirty years ago but had forgotten. And I remembered how to read! Which sounds silly until I tell you what I forgot to read. Then you’ll think I’m the one who’s silly. But first, let’s look at the numbers.

Progress Report 2022 Week 15 By the Numbers

I wrote a lot more in Book 3 than it looks!

I wrote 685 words in Evolution’s Hand Book 3: Primary Target. That sounds low, doesn’t it? But it actually represents a significant change in one of the main arcs. I’ll talk about that more in the I Don’t Like the Word Silly section, below.

I also got through nineteen more chapters in the second draft of Evolution’s Hand Book 2: Dying Breath. I have another week, maybe two, before I’m finished. Then, I want to add some more superstructure chapters to tie the first, second, and third books together. After that, I’ll explore beta reader options.

How Not to Build an E-Mail List

It Seemed to Start Well

To be honest, I’m being overly harsh on myself here. Some of my planning paid off. For example, a few years ago, I experimented with Facebook ads on my Crow’s World of Anime site. That meant I knew the mechanics. I understood the basics of audience selection and ad construction.

But ad copy? Ad graphics? Those are two things I have not mastered. In last week’s post, I showed my first ad. When I turned it loose on Facebook, I was getting a good reach and number of impressions. But I was not getting the number of clicks that I thought I should.

So, before it ended, I wanted to test if my graphic wasn’t catchy enough. So I created a new graphic that looks like this:

I wasn’t happy with the number of clicks I was generating with the first ad, so I created a second.

I created a second as with an expanded the audience beyond the United States. That was an oversight on my part for the first ad. I had only selected the United States. For the second ad, I selected the United States, Canada, Australia, South America, and Europe. Here’s how the ads performed:

First Ad9,70621,235116$32.70
Second Ad86,976236,912655$32.46

Lesson from this part of the exercise: For my purposes, picking “hard science fiction” and “political thriller” as interests seemed to work okay, but the major difference was in selecting more than just the United States. Since Evolution’s Hand is global in scope, selecting a more global scope seemed reasonable. It also yielded more clicks for the same cost.

That’s where things went in a disappointing direction.

My Landing Page Needs Work

You can see the landing page yourself here. It looks like this:

Here’s what the landing page looks like.

I think I got a decent number of clicks. Between the two ads, I generated 772 clicks. Those 772 clicks earned me 4 new e-mail list subscriptions. That’s what, .5%? I don’t know for sure why of those 772 clicks, only 4 people went ahead and subscribed. Here are my suspicions:

  1. I think there’s too big a disconnect between the “spacey” second image and the “hospital-y” look of the graphic on the landing page.
  2. The ad copy on the landing page doesn’t grip the reader.

So, the e-mail list is up and running, and I have four more potential readers on it! I’ll start publishing my biweekly or monthly newsletter! And remember: If you’re reading this, I’d love to have you sign up and get a copy of the short story! The link’s here!

I Don’t Like the Word Silly

I wanted to take a break from re-writing Dying Breath, so I decided to review the plot arcs for Primary Target. As I worked through Helmine Stein’s arc, I thought to myself, “Man, this just isn’t doing it for me. I wonder if I should shift the focus? Pick a different character?”

Mind you, I had already written two of Helmine’s arc’s chapters. Those two had felt solid. But as I looked at the next five plot points, something felt off.

“I wonder if I should switch the focus? Maybe to Jadwiga Janczak? She’s must more intense; much less restrained. And she really, really hates Atticus Porter and his maids.” So I opened my To Do/Scratch area for book 3, and at the very top, look what I found:

Wow! What a great idea! Too bad I’d forgotten I already had it!

Sometime before January 18, 2022, when I started writing Primary Target, I had already figured out that I wanted Janczak as the main antagonist. I stared at that for a few seconds before shaking my head.

Seriously. All I could think at that moment was, “What a maroon.”

Do you know what’s funny? Well, two things that are funny? Rebuilding the arc with Janczak as the antagonist was super easy. Everything just fell into place. And rewriting the first two chapters to switch the point of view from Stein to Janczak felt even better. That’s what accounts for the 685 words this week. Moving the chapter from Stein to Janczak was trivial. So despite being late to my own party, I think I’m on the right track.

Unless I wrote something else down that I haven’t read…

Speaking of Forgetting

As I tried to rewrite Dying Breath and write Primary Target at the same time, I ran into two problems. First, I forgot which of the two books a major scene had taken place. That’s a terrible sign! The plots are very different, and the character mix is, too. I should not get them mixed up in my brain.

Second, I came across a concept that I thought I was introducing — in two consecutive chapters within the same character’s arc point. It was then I remembered something I had learned back in college — back when I was trying to write the last time. And what I learned was this:

I need to write the first draft in a single, continuous motion. Don’t try to rewrite or edit anything else at the same time. Get the first draft done, then set it aside.

Now, I know some folks prefer to juggle plots. Maybe if I write a different series, I’ll be able to do the same thing. But there are lot of little character interaction details that trigger events in the future, sometimes in the next book. I have to keep them straight, or I can’t reward attentive readers. So I need the focus of a single, continuous writing motion.

That means I’ll work on the second draft of Dying Breath until it’s done, then turn my attention back to the first draft of Primary Target.

What about Executive Action?

I really like the job that Jesh Art Studio did on the cover!

I haven’t mentioned it, because it’s at a very, very scary point. Namely, that I have no excuse not to publish it. I think Dying Breath will be ready in four to six months; Primary Target six four to six months after that. So I really have no excuse not to pull the trigger on Executive Action.

Maybe I’ll try one more round of ads with a revamped landing page. That would be a good way to gather more data to confirm whether or not the problem is the landing page.

It will also delay the day that I learn just how many people don’t want to read my book! Which is what publishing it will reveal.

I’m just being honest with you when I say: This is a personally scary moment. I hate my work, and I always have. But I don’t hate all of these novels. I really want them to succeed. I wrote the first 2,080 words of Executive Action on December 27, 2020, and now it’s ready.

But I’m not!

Oh, well, time to suck it up, be a man about it, and apply numerous and sundry other cliches. I think I’ll try to publish in the June timeframe so I can ensure that Dying Breath is available by Fall. So at least I can claim to have a reason for my cowardice!

What Do You Think?

Does anything about my ad campaign stick out to you as being particularly suck-ful? I’d love to read about your experience in the comments!

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