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Progress Report 2023 Week 07

If you read my post from last week, you might remember that I was going to focus on writing Evolution’s Hand Book 5: Split Infinities this week. I was also going to try to force myself to learn more about marketing. Did I make any progress? Or did marketing crush me entirely — including my spirit? Let’s look at some numbers first.

Progress Report 2023 Week 07 By the Numbers

I didn’t write quite 10,000 words this week. But I wasn’t too far off!

I think Plottr is going to pay for itself with Split Infinities. I feel more confident in this story than I did with Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus. I’m already teasing out and sequencing the kind of complexities that took me a lot of rewriting to fix in Blind Exodus. It’s helping me focus on the writing flow.

Also, I’m taking Lee Child’s advice by re-reading the previous chapter aloud before starting new work. That’s not the reason I didn’t hit 10,000 words this week. The reason is that word count usually suffers in the first ten or fifteen chapters of my new books because I have to take time to cast new characters or build new sets. But I can already see that the flow of my prose is greatly improved.

Plottr’s making it a lot easier to visualize plot/sequences than the old plot braiding spreadsheets I’ve used before. Note that the solid colors are the chapters or scenes whose first draft I have finished.

This week, I had to build sets for Mariam Al Khatib’s office space in UC Berkeley’s Hesse Hall. It only took an hour or so, but the end result was that I could fully visualize the scenes. That let me focus on the character traits I wanted to reveal. I hope it lends a greater level of authenticity to the character!

Making Peace with Marketing

The Mysterious World of Amazon Marketing Campaigns

I need to get over my apprehension about marketing and all things marketing related. Because if I don’t, then I’m never going to get my book in front of a critical mass of readers. This week, I kicked off several efforts.

First, I began taking notes about my A/B test for my Amazon marketing campaigns. I started them at the end of January 2023. They are identical except for one thing: one has a blurb beside it, and the other doesn’t. The blurb appears beside the graphic, and it looks like this:

The two ads are identical except for the blurb.

The keywords are the same. The keyword bids are the same. The only difference is the blurb. Here’re the key performance indicators:

With BlurbWithout Blurb

One thing I don’t understand is why the ad without blurbs got so many more impressions. But what I am irrationally happy about is that the ad with my blurb, the blurb I wrote by my little self (with some input from my wife and daughter, of course), has twice as many clicks with about a third fewer impressions. That ratio might change; the numbers are still too low to know if they are statistically significant. But I find it encouraging nonetheless.

Social Media and Website Makeover

I’ve known my social media presence needed work. In fact, I bet most of you don’t know that I have a Twitter account for my writing, as well as a Facebook page. They weren’t branded well; and neither was this site. So, I asked my wife to take a look. She’s built her genealogy business from the ground up, and her mailing list is approximately 180x larger than mine (no, that’s not a typo; she’s that good). And that’s after her most recent pruning activity. She’s also very knowledgable about all things social media.

One of her first findings was that my webpage did not make it clear that I’d ever published anything. So, I added a static homepage that showcases what’s been published and what’s coming. The blog feed is now on a separate page. I think most of you find me through WordPress’s Reader, so you might not see anything different.

I changed my Facebook page to reflect that I’m published, too. I also replaced the anime-like avatar I’ve been using. I’ll still use it for posts, at least until I can craft a replacement. But I’m trying to focus on the books.

I’ve given the Facebook page a makeover.

The design isn’t accidental. I toured the sites of my favorite writers to get a feel for what they were doing. I didn’t copy anyone, but I tried to get a sense for the message they tried to convey. Then, I took my wife’s advice. I think the result is heavy-handed because I’m not a graphic artist. But I hope it at least conveys solidarity with my book covers, primarily because I pulled the color and the font from Evolution’s Hand Book 1: Executive Action. My Twitter account has a similar look now, too.

These changes by themselves achieve little. The A/B test continues; the branding isn’t useful if no one sees it. I still have the problem of figuring out how to attract readers. But at least if I do attract anyone, they’ll see I might have at least some idea of what I’m doing. Before, I’m afraid I scared them off with poor social media execution!

Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2023 Week 07

I should mention that I accidentally finished Melchizedek Conrad’s Plot Turn 1. I say “accidentally” because I had planned to do that next week, but I decided it fit better if I moved it up in the schedule. Fortunately, the characters all agreed. I also finished Atticus Porter’s and Jadwiga Janczak’s hooks.

I want to keep an emphasis on the art and craft of marketing while not losing momentum on Split Infinities. So, here’re my goals for next week:

What Do You Think?

Do you create your own social media graphics? Do you hire a professional? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

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