What is it they say about ‘best laid plans’?

One month on from my last blog post, and the next book in The Phoenix is no further forward. The plan now is to start in earnest on Monday; but will I stick to it?

So, what went wrong? Very little, in fact. The weather was fine and sunny for a week or two, so I read a lot of books in the garden, and posted my reviews on Amazon.

Now my wife is retired, we find the days slip by between the weekly visits to the supermarket so much quicker than they used to. Do we achieve much in the hours in between? A trip to the recycling centre here, a drive to the garden centre there for bedding plants; a general tidy-up in the garden and inside the house, followed by time with the kids and grandkids. The domestic and social whirl leaves little time for writing it appears.

Have there been negative signs this month that have discouraged me from locking myself away to write? Far from it; May has been my best month since January for downloads.

I ran a promo in the second week with a site that charged $29 to offer my ‘free’ title to up to 30 different sites for a feature. I’m not sure who, where or what was taken up, but that kick-started the increase in units with around 400 over the week.

Often when someone contacts you directly you are sensible to be wary. 99% of them are useless at best, and scammers at worst. I was approached by ManyBooks.net and after a few preliminary checks risked $24 on a feature. That proved to be another winner, generating just under 600 units in week three. That site has been added to my ‘go to list’.

Buoyed by that success, I returned to my ‘old favourites’ in week four. Freebooksy ran a one title feature last Wednesday and generated a further 1000 downloads. The Olympus Project shot back up to #2 in the Free Crime Thriller charts. Across all genres, it reached around #125. Happy days!

Next week, Booksends will hope to start June figures off with a bang. I haven’t been back to them since last August when they provided me with almost 1500 on a single day. Half that figure this time would be more than welcome.

The lack of writing progress has nothing to do with sales activity. Downloads have hit 10k for the first five months. With a following wind, July–June should hit 20k with ease. You only have to flip back to blog posts from Spring last year to see that a transformation has taken place.

One of the distractions over the last month has been Amazon. Nothing problematic; quite the opposite. I followed the suggestion of two writer friends to use Amazon’s Sponsored Product Ads. Twitter and Facebook ads are far more cumbersome to use, and less successful – for me, at any rate.

My first ad is coming to the end of its run, with the second hot on its tail. The quantity of impressions for my own selection of keywords were impressive, and the ‘clicks’ started to gather pace as I fine-tuned my bids, and added more keyword options. Readers of books by Fleming, Rankin, Child, and Slaughter have all seen ‘The Olympus Project’ pop up on their product pages. For a modest sum, the ad has raised my visibility, if nothing else.

The second ad will feature Amazon’s automatic selection of keywords; this will indicate areas I can use in future to supplement the ‘winners’ I discovered with my own humble effort. No, everything’s positive on the promoting/marketing front.

In the final analysis, the real reason behind the inertia is that I’ve been lazy. Mea culpa. I prayed for rain. It’s due in bucket loads from Monday; so, the plan must get back on schedule. 20 days at 3k words per day, and no excuses. Add an extra 10 days for edits, re-writes, proof reading, and the rigmarole of getting the thing published, and I can still make it by the end of July.

That leaves five months to keep the downloads coming in, the ads ticking over, and complete book #9. That was the 2017 plan after all. I may be three weeks behind; but all is not lost. Unless the sun returns on Tuesday! Watch this space.

If you want regular updates on my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? The June Newsletter (#12) will be circulated in a few hours.

Categories: The Long Hard Road