News Progress Post

Progress Report 2023 Week 27

It took me nineteen days to plot Evolution’s Hand Book 5: Split Infinities. I started plotting Evolutions Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis on June 11, 2023. That’s more than nineteen days! Am I done yet? Did I manage to test another advertising avenue — and if so, how hard did I crash this time? And am I any closer to a cover for Book 4: Blind Exodus? Let’s take a look at the high-level indicators before we get into the details.

Progress Report 2023 Week 27 By the Numbers

Looks like I’m still plotting! Sounds sinister, doesn’t it?

Relatively speaking, if I go by the timeline from Book 5: Split Infinities, I should be writing chapters by now. I’m not. Instead, I’m taking the time to improve my plotting skills. Back during Split Infinities, I remember feeling like one or two of the arcs weren’t quite ready, but I decided I’d work out the issues during the writing phase. That decision cost me about a month, because I wasn’t clear who should know what when — and I had to do more rewriting than should have been necessary.

“Should” here being a judgement call.

This time, I had that feeling about two of the arcs again. Instead of plunging forward, I’m going to tweak the arcs until I have at least have the order of disclosures down. Also, while I’m happy with the character arcs in general, I want to firm up some details for Dek Conrad and Mariam Al Khatib. They’re almost where I want them — but not quite.

The characters are whispering to me, and I’m trying to listen. Let’s face it: I don’t want them to get pissed off and act up when I try to write! I’m pretty sure they’ll do it, too, if I don’t listen!

It’s been twenty-two days since I started. Yes, this is taking longer. But, I’m more confident in the result! Fingers crossed it translates into a more readable product!

The Barbarian Horde

Since publishing Evolution’s Hand Book 1: Executive Action a little over a year ago, I’ve tried a variety of different marketing avenues. In all cases, I can confidently say I need more practice. Yes, I’m completely confident in that conclusion! I’ve tried Amazon Ads with disappointing results. I’ve tried Bookbub Partners, with mixed results. Until this week, my best luck had been with a long-duration Facebook ad. I renewed it for July because it gave me consistent results, as well as a body of evidence I could analyze to fine-tune ongoing ads.

A couple of weeks ago, I tried Fussy Librarian. The results more than doubled my previous best day’s sales total, and that includes my best Bookbub ad. Not bad, I told myself. This week, I tried something new. I tried the first venue that specialized in science fiction. This week, I tried Book Barbarian.

Like Bookbub and Fussy Librarian, Book Barbarian places your ad in e-mail to its subscribers. Their audience wants to find books to read, which means it’s a receptive audience. This was the first time I tried a genre-specific outlet. How’d it go?

This is how my ad looked in the Book Barbarian e-mail. I like their presentation — clean and inviting! The blurb, though, probably needs work.

The day the ad appeared, I sold three times as many books ias my previous record. The second day, the day after my ad appeared in its newsletter, I sold enough books to tie some of my previous records. Guess what’s my new favorite site!

I think I still have work to do on blurb writing. I recently updated the Amazon blurbs for all three books to harmonize them and show the plot progression from book to book. My sales are increasing as I refine those blurbs and as I find more profitable marketing outlets. Does that mean I’m close to a breakthrough?

Heck, even if this is just another step up a long slope, it beats sitting at the bottom lamenting my lack of marketing skills! I can accept pushing forward with a strong sense of self-suckage. But I can’t accept burying myself in indecision. So I’ll consider this a success.

Progress against Last Week’s Goals

Here’s how I did against last week’s goals:

  1. Incorporate the beta and proofreading feedback into Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus: Not done! Plotting distracted me. That’s okay — see #5, below.
  2. Continue plotting Unnatural Crypsis: Done!
  3. Try another advertising avenue: Done!
  4. Try to quantify the impact my latest blurbs will have on future sales: Ongoing! My latest updates have been a wash so far — sales were consistent with pre-change levels, after adjusting for events like Book Barbarian. But this is something I’m going to have to do on an ongoing basis.
  5. Begin shopping for a cover for Blind Exodus (stretch objective): Not done! got caught up in plotting, which is fine. Real Life Family Events (RLFEs) made a hole in my budget, so I might even wait until August to go cover shopping.

Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2023 Week 27

HEre’s what I hope to accomplish this week:

  1. Finish plotting Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis
  2. Incorporate the beta and proofreading feedback into Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus
  3. Begin writing Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis (stretch objective)

What Do You Think?

How do you know you’re improving in a given skill? For example, how do you know your plotting has improved? Do you solicit feedback from a beta reader? A developmental editor? Or do you go by your own training and experience? I’d love to know your thoughts! Feel free to share in the comments!