Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Month: May 2014

DOMINION Free Run Post-Mortem

Those Fiverr gigs I mentioned last week have been keeping me busy — hence the slowdown in posting here. Unfortunately, it also resulted in a slowdown (or more like a full stoppage) on my novel WIP, but I have plans to get back into that tonight. I know I don’t usually blog in the middle of the day, but for once my freelance writing is done for the day. I’ve been wanting to talk about the results of my recent free run of Dominion of the Damned, so I figured I’d seize the opportunity to give a quick rundown so I can focus on noveling this evening after Husband turns in.

Quick recap: Last month I enrolled my zombievampocalyptic suspense novel, Dominion of the Damnedin Kindle Select. For five consecutive days earlier this month, from May 5th through the 11th, I made the Kindle version free on Amazon. Here’s the rundown of how that went:

  • On the first day I reached the Top 20 Free list in my selected categories (Dystopian and Dark Fantasy) in both the US and the UK. By day two I’d moved well into the Top 10, and stayed there for the rest of the free run, getting as high as #3 in Dystopian. At some point I also charted in the Top 10 in Austrlia, where I got as high as #2.
  • I ended up giving away 2,114 books total — far, FAR more than any free runs I’ve done on other titles. That breaks down to 1,799 in the US, 270 in the UK, 12 in Germany (surprising, until I remembered that I have a friend who used to be stationed there who probably made some recommendations to his Air Force buddies), 3 in France and 2 in India (both of those are just plain surprising), 15 in Canada and 13 in Australia. Interesting that 13 books is enough to chart at #2 in Australia but 15 didn’t even crack the top 100 in Canada. Clearly, there are a lot more Kindle readers in Canada than in the UK or Australia.
  • During the run I racked up two more verified purchase reviews and sold two copies of Restless Spirits.

Sounds great, but the true test was whether it would continue to give me a boost in sales and visibility once the free run ended and the price went back to normal. Well, since then I’ve sold 10 more copies of Dominion (nine in the US and one in the UK), and a copy of Eucha FallsGranted, those sales aren’t enough to let me lay aside freelancing any time soon, but they’ve added up to enough royalties to cover one of our smaller bills, and considering it had been weeks since the last time I’d made a book sale, and months since I’ve sold a copy of Dominion, I’m pretty happy with those results.

As to visibility, I also had another positively glowing verified purchase review, AND reports have come in from the wild (okay, one report, from my sister, but I’ll take it) that Dominion has begun to show up in the book recommendation e-mails Amazon sends out to its customers.

All in all, I’d call it a success — so much so that I think I’ll plan to rotate through each of my titles and do a free run every six weeks or so, except for when I have a new release, in order to ensure that my books stay visible.

And once again, I’d like to thank David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Visible! for helping me pull off a successful execution of this strategy. If you’ve got books to sell, you should definitely read this book.

Freelance Writing and Fiverr: A Match Made in the Good Place

If you’ve followed me online for very long, then you probably know that I’ve spent the last couple of years doing a lot of writing for Demand Studios to help pay the bills (and you probably also know that it hasn’t been my favorite, but at least it was fairly reliable and steady pay). Well, we ran into a bit of a rough patch earlier this year when the assignment queue there started to dwindle down to nothing, which was followed by an announcement that they were shutting down for “a couple of months” to re-tool — which basically meant that they were temporarily laying off their entire freelance writing staff.

So that kinda sucked, especially since they were the only steady client we had going for us. But then again, I was also relieved to get a break, and it seemed like the kick in the butt I needed to finally get myself off of the content mill hamster wheel and start doing freelance writing on my own terms. Initially, this meant that I was going to start querying online and print publications and pitching articles. But it turns out that the article query process is about as slow as the book query process, and I needed to get paid last week.

Enter Fiverr.com. Based on a tip from Freelance Writers Online, I decided to set up a writing gig there to start building non-content-mill writing samples and collecting testimonials. The plan, originally, was to get enough of both to get off to a good start and post them on my freelance writing CV website. I figured that I’d set a word-count limit that was not completely unreasonable for $5 while remaining competitive, and only accept assignments that interested me from people who were more concerned about quality than cheap and fast.

Granted, I figured this was a long-shot. But my goal was to get good samples, not to make money — something I didn’t really think would be possible on a site where everything costs $5.

Except, I quickly discovered that everything doesn’t cost $5 on Fiverr — at least, not anymore. I originally set up my account on there a few years ago, when they were still new and everything did, in fact, cost a mere five bucks. But it turns out that Fiverr has grown up a lot since then, and once you prove yourself as a reputable seller, you unlock additional benefits, including the ability to add on “gig extras” and start charging more for your work.

Another thing I quickly discovered — there are, in fact, plenty of people who are happy to pay for quality over quantity. It turns out that my gig — 250 words from a veteran writer and blogger with over a decade of experience and a strong publishing record — stood out amidst a sea of gigs offering higher word counts from writers for whom English is clearly not their first language. I started getting work almost immediately — and it was work I actually enjoyed, about topics I found interesting.

After the first 30 days, I had enough sales and positive reviews racked up to earn my Level 1 Seller badge and unlock gig extras — including the ability for buyers to order multiples of your gig, which meant people could hire me to write lengthier articles. Just a week later I had already advanced to Level 2 and was able to add even more gig extras at higher prices. I was a bit worried at first that the pricier stuff might scare off the clientele I had built up, but so far they’ve been happy to pay for the extras.

Long story short (…too late!), in about six weeks Fiverr has gone from a means of jump starting my flagging freelance biz to not only reviving it but forming its backbone. I’ve got a few steady writing clients there, and also a number of editing and novel critique clients. I’ve got several graphic design and self-publishing related gigs on offer, too, because I can do all those things and I thrive on variety, but so far my most popular gig by far is the writing gig, followed by the novel critique one. Between those two, my queue stays busy enough that I’ve had to recruit my husband, who’s also got some good writing chops, to help me stay on top of it. We’re working on expanding it and making him an official part of the team, as soon as we can find the time to rewrite the profile description.

We’re not 100% up to being able to cover all the bills with our Fiverr gigs yet. Demand Studios is slowly starting to release new titles into their assignment queue, so I’m going to have to stick with them a little longer to fill in the gaps. But I’m optimistic that Fiverr will be able to close those gaps for us before too much longer and we’ll be able to bid adieu to content mills forever.

This was ostensibly meant to be a post about how to get started selling on Fiverr, which has been much requested of me on Facebook. But I felt like I needed to give my testimony first, and I didn’t think it would run quite so long. So I hereby promise to do a follow-up post later in the week with some best practices for getting your Fiverr business up and running. In the mean time… is there anything I can help you with for five bucks?

DOMINION is free! Also, good things happen when you follow good advice.

Dominion of the Damned by Jean Marie Bauhaus Dominion of the Damned is currently a free Kindle download on Amazon, both domestically  and internationally. It will remain free through this Sunday, and then it will go back to its regular price of US$3.99. So get your free copy while you can!

I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with its performance so far. Today is the first day it dropped to free, and until now I haven’t publicized that fact anywhere outside of my mailing list (which is still quite tiny). But as I write this it’s on the verge of crossing 500 downloads, and it’s already cracked the Top 10 Free lists in both the Dark Fantasy and Dystopian categories.

This time around I followed advice from David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Visible on selecting the right categories to increase visibility, and it seems to be paying off. Before, I had it listed in the more general Horror and Contemporary Fantasy categories, where there was a lot more competition. The current categories are not only more appropriate, but also less populated, which means I didn’t have to register nearly as many downloads to crack the popularity lists as I would have in the previous genres.

Of course, only time will tell if this gives my sales a boost once the price goes back to normal. Hopefully, it will at least earn me some new fans and a few more reviews.

***

910 words added to Radium Town today, bringing the total word count to 8,792. That’s the most fiction I’ve written in a single day in quite some time. I’d hoped to crack 1K, but I told myself I would stop at 9:30 so I could get this post written and still have time to watch last night’s Supernatural and get in some reading on Wizard and Glass and still get my butt to bed on time.

I think this book is shaping up to be a good candidate for serialization, what with its long chapters and plenty of opportunities for cliff-hangers. That’s definitely territory I’ve been wanting to explore, but then again, I’ve kind of always planned to shop this book to agents, so I need to give that a lot more thought.

At any rate, here’s a rough, non-spoilery snapshot of today’s output:

Outside, the air was brisk and clear. Betty pulled her cape a little tighter and followed Will down the steps to the front walk. When they reached the street, he held the gate open for her and asked, “So what’s so urgent you’ve got to leave a dinner party to send a telegram at this time of night?”

Betty sighed. “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s classified.”

“Classified? Heck, Betty, if you don’t want to tell me, all you got to do is say so.” He shoved his hands in his pockets and lapsed into silence as they headed toward Main Street. Betty made no attempt to fill it. She knew it wouldn’t last long. After a moment, he proved her right. “So what have you been doing all this time in Washington? Or is that classified, too?”

Betty smiled. “Depends on which parts you want to know about.”

On discipline — or the lack thereof.

Lately, I have been suffering from a lack of discipline in my life. And I do mean suffering. As if my sporadic attempts at growing my WIP’s word count weren’t bad enough, I also keep failing to do basic good-for-my-health things like establishing an exercise routine or eating enough vegetables or getting to bed at a reasonable hour. All of this failure is leaving me feeling run-down and foggy-brained and blah, and it’s certainly not making me want to write during my allotted writing times, so of course you can see how it’s a whole vicious cycle.

Just as I keep starting out the week with good writing intentions and some actual productivity, I also start every week with excellent health intentions and manage to make myself work out and eat salads and avoid sugar or too much caffeine. But then I blow it on the not staying up too late part, after which I’m too tired to exercise and I need extra caffeine and I start craving starches and sugar.

Ostensibly, when I stopped going to bed super-early with my husband and started keeping later hours, it was to give myself more time to write and work on writing- & publishing-adjacent  tasks, and also to read before I turned in. Originally, I set myself a strict 11:30 bedtime, and it was all working out pretty great. But then my night-owl proclivities started getting the better of me, and I started going to bed later and later.

Part of the problem is that I started catching up on my “just me” shows — the ones Matt has no interest in watching with me — after he turns in, instead of trying to cram them all in on the weekend. At least this shouldn’t be a problem much longer, what with the TV season winding down. Half the shows I watch are having their season finales next week, and the other half will wrap up the following week. Then maybe I’ll be able to get some work done in the evenings and get myself to bed on time. Unless I cave into temptation to start marathoning some new shows. Or some old ones. I’ve already got my eye on a summer re-watch of both Buffy and Farscape.

At any rate, today I worked out AND ate my vegetables AND added just short of 500 words to Radium Town. Except about half of that was recreating the part of yesterday’s word count that somehow got eaten by Scrivener. I’d post a snapshot, but Scrivener still keeps acting wonky and freezing things up, and besides, I’m still on the dinner party that doesn’t end, so I’ll wait until I have something more novel to post than Agent Blake’s sparkling dinner conversation.

Now I’m going to see if I can watch my shows (Warehouse 13 and Agents of SHIELD) and get myself to bed at a decent hour for a change.

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