6 Lessons Learned Between Books 4 & 5

Swindle_1-24-155x_OpI recently published Swindle Town, Book 5 in my Gen Delacourt Mystery Series, and here I am again, riding the learning curve and sharing wins, errors, and vulnerabilities with anyone who cares to read about them.

I’ve done the same following publication of Book 2, Book 3, and Book 4, and although I really hope that one day these posts will be a thing of the past, so far the lessons just keep on coming. I feel like an experimental scientist – lots of new things. Here we go.

1. I tried pre-orders – wow!

I set up Swindle Town as a pre-order to coincide with a promotion I ran for Book 2, The Last Fairytale. The pre-order timeframe wasn’t too far in advance, just ten days or so, but I thought the activity around Fairytale might highlight this new book in the series, and it did. Not a huge number, but Swindle accrued 91 orders and came out of the gate with a sales rank of about 10,000. Beats a stick in the eye, eh?

What I like about pre-orders is that reviews can’t be posted. Sounds like a bad thing, but it allowed time to get ARCs out to reviewers for them to read and prepare a review. Formerly, I’d be finishing the mss and holding onto it, waiting for reviewers to read, OR pubbing the book and leaving it there all alone, naked and vulnerable and review-less, while readers gave it a go. I like the pre-order function, and I’ll use it with every book going forward – probably with a longer timeframe next go-round.

2. I got into the swing of promos

My post about BookBub said it all – promotion is EVERYTHING to successful long-term book sales. My plan is to promote one book in my series every month through whatever channel is available to me. So far, though (as I’ve mentioned several times before), I’m a big fan of Book Marketing Tool’s “free” ebook submission tool. It’s become my go-to standard, and the books I’ve used it for have received thousands of downloads at a cost of only $15.00 plus an hour or so of my time. Can’t beat it.

3. I now have a review process that works

Many promo opportunities are limited by the number of reviews a book has – and to speed along the process of accruing reviews, I now have a review/slash/promo process that seems to work for me. Here it is:

  • Beg, plead, cajole, gather first ten reviews. (Actually, the goal is to build a list of ten go-to ARC readers/reviewers.) When these are in place …
  • Use Book Marketing Tool’s ebook submission tool to set up a preliminary free giveaway of the book. The tool helps you submit to dozens of “smaller” free ebook giveaway vendors, and many of them do not have high review requirements. And, for some reason, free promos seem to garner more reviews than even 99 cent promos do.
  • Use smaller promos to build reviews, then begin to submit to “bigger” book promo vendors with higher review count requirements.

4. I got my first 1* review

My first bummer 2* review came last spring, when I had an unfortunate encounter with a book blogger. It hurt, it made me feel badly for a couple of weeks, and it was, frankly, embarrassing. But it also worked to desensitize me – a bit – to the pain and rejection generated by mean feedback. I DO read all my reviews, I just no longer read them first thing in the morning – just in case someone has decided to rain on my parade. 🙂

And trust me, since that first 2* I’ve gotten other reviews that smart, but (to date) although reviewers have noted their disapproval of certain aspects of a plot, characters, dialogue (my 1* said too many sarcastic remarks made them move on to another book) or storyline, not ONE reviewer has left a comment that I’m a crap writer, that my books are filled with typos, or that I need to change editors. I will hold that banner high and be proud. And I will also *knock on wood.*

One thing that’s been fab is all the gratitude for the “no graphic sex, no truly foul language” policy in my books. It makes me feel like I’m on the right track. THANK YOU reviewers!

5. I gained FANS – and I love their emails

It might irritate some authors, but I am absolutely loving the emails from readers. Last summer I went back in and added my email address to the back matter of every book (more on this in another post), and several readers have sent messages noting little typos, (not many, thank goodness!) and plot elements they’ve found that they feel are incorrect. A couple lamented the absence of characters that appeared in Book 1 but didn’t in Book 2, etc. I truly get a kick out of it. I’ve sent almost every one of them a free ebook in the series to say “thank you.” Their interest warms my heart. And it’s helpful … although it may get old in the future? Hahaha.

6. Sadly, I got a little burnt out

Yeah, I’ll admit it, and I told my beta-readers that I felt my mojo slipping as I approached the end of Book 5. My goal was to write and publish three full-length novels in 2014, and I achieved that goal, publishing Book 3, Paint Me Gone, in May; Book 4, A Thousand Tombs, in August, and – a little late in my schedule, but close, Book 5, Swindle Town, February 1. Of course, I didn’t get much else done, but I pulled off the books and I’ll try to write three more this year.

I still love the initial, first draft writing process, but by Book 5, the endless revisions became difficult to get my head around, which is what slowed Swindle Town down. So I took a month off to regenerate, and now I’m diving back in. Book 6, Lock the Cellar Door, is due out some time in April. Wish me luck! (*Note: Cellar was actually published June 1.)

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts! Your email address will NOT be sold, shared, abused, or rented – that’s a promise. If you’re not already, please follow @mollygreene on Twitter! And last but not least, this original content by Molly Greene is copyright protected. Mwah! Thank you so much.



, , , , ,

37 Responses to 6 Lessons Learned Between Books 4 & 5

  1. Melissa Gill February 2, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

    Thanks for sharing Molly. It really helps to hear from someone who is a few steps ahead of me in the game.

    • Molly Greene February 2, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

      Thanks Melissa – I bet I won’t be ahead for long, though! Best to you on your journey, and thanks for sharing mine with me.

  2. Belinda Pollard February 2, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    Well done, Molly! And thanks so much for sharing your journey with us.

    I’m interested to hear more about your experiences of pre-order in the future. I contemplated it for my recent debut book, but just couldn’t pull it off in time due to various “factors beyond my control”. 😉

    I’m starting to think about trying a 3-day special deal or something to boost awareness, but maybe I’m just impatient and need to let it find its own way for now…

    • Molly Greene February 2, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

      Thanks, Belinda! I never could have pulled off pre-orders before this book, either. It’s pretty simple, but I’ll put it on my list of blogpost ideas and see what jells. I know you know that book promos with a single book as a tool to grow reviews is a good strategy, so I’d consider it!

  3. Kim Wenzler February 2, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. It’s really helping. What a great blog!

    • Molly Greene February 2, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

      Thanks, Kim! I appreciate it.

  4. Connie Rossini February 2, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

    I’m glad to hear your fiction is clean, Molly. I may try some of it in the future for that reason. Have you checked out Clean Indie Reads? Besides helping with promos, they have a great FB group. I joined a few months back and have met a lot of new authors who now follow me on other social media.

    • Molly Greene February 2, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

      Thanks, Connie! I probably won’t promote my series on that platform and I’m not anti-salty language in the books I read, it seems my characters just turned out to be folks who weren’t into using major expletives 🙂 Who knew??

  5. Julie Musil February 2, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

    I love how you share the nitty gritty with us! I’ve heard about pre-orders but felt it was a bit complicated for little ole’ me. Maybe I’ll give it a try next time.

    You pulled off a huge goal for 2014. You should be so proud of yourself!

    • Molly Greene February 3, 2015 at 7:15 am #

      Thanks so much, Julie! I am proud, if a little depleted (lol!) and pre-orders are actually very simple – give ’em a try!

  6. Jodi Aman February 3, 2015 at 3:44 am #

    You are doing great!

    • Molly Greene February 3, 2015 at 7:15 am #

      Jodi, thank you so much!

  7. Dawn February 3, 2015 at 5:45 am #

    I’m lucky to get 3 books done in 3 years! You’re pretty amazing!

    • Molly Greene February 3, 2015 at 7:16 am #

      Thanks, Dawn – but keep in mind I didn’t get much else on my goal or to-do list done last year. Just sayin’. Thanks for your support!

  8. DK Walker February 3, 2015 at 8:39 am #

    Quick question Molly,

    I’m currently about to release a free eBook (they can download it after visiting my landing page), but I will list it for sale through Kindle, Nook, etc.

    My question to you is how much of a difference does it make to NOT have the verified purchase notification from Amazon next to a customers review when others read their review? Since the bulk of my reviews will be coming from people getting my eBook for free.

    • DK Walker February 3, 2015 at 8:42 am #

      and thank you in advance for taking time out in answering my question

    • Molly Greene February 3, 2015 at 11:29 am #

      That’s a great question, DK, and one I can only answer based on what I’ve read: it matters to some readers, and it doesn’t to others. You could consider making the book free on Amazon and sending people to the ZON download link after they hit your landing page – free downloads on ZON show up as a verified purchase. Just a thought!

  9. Walter Danley February 3, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    Molly, I was sent a link to your interview with Todd Borg. My friend thought that I’d enjoy it, and I really did. Then I read some of your blog content and became a fan. Both you and Todd are generous to a fault with sharing your techniques, experiences, successes and (what’s the other word…) failures. But like someone wise said, none of us learns from the successes!

    Thanks for your witty writing and detailed analysis of the fiction writers journey.

    • Molly Greene February 3, 2015 at 11:31 am #

      Hi Walter, welcome to my blog, and thanks so much for your lovely comment. You are now dear to my heart because you called me “witty!”

  10. Stephanie Mason February 4, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    Molly you are amazing! I love your posts. I am just starting the self-publish path and am scared spitless. I feel like there is sooo much to know. But you truly inspire me. I feel like your posts are an easy to follow, no-nonsense resource about so many relevant topics. Thanks for continuing to post even when you are crazy busy writing novels for us to enjoy as well!

    • Molly Greene February 4, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

      Thanks Stephanie … sometimes I think I’m not smart enough to be scared spitless! I know you’ll be fine, though, if I can do it you can – and I’m thrilled if even a little bit of what I blog about is helpful to all of you. Best to you w/all your selfpublishing projects!

  11. hannah February 5, 2015 at 3:53 am #

    Hi Molly,

    I don’t write fiction but I am glad that you are so consistent with your blog and your post are inspiring even though its centered around a particular niche. Seriously, love, love, love your blog.

    It’s the only blog on someone writing fiction that I read. Keep flying

    • Molly Greene February 5, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

      Hannah, thank you so much!

  12. Sue Coletta February 5, 2015 at 6:16 am #

    I’m embarrassed that I’m so late in seeing this. I’ve been locked away, for the most part, editing my latest novel– one more time– tightening, getting ready for upcoming contests.

    I loved this post, especially the part about ebook submission tools. Bookmarking for future use. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Molly!

    • Molly Greene February 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

      Sue, it’s my pleasure, and I’m thrilled if any little bit of helps. Best to you with your books!

  13. Judy Nickles February 6, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    Bookmarked this for LOTS of further study! And–delighted to find another author who steers clear of graphic sex and foul language! You go girl!

    • Molly Greene February 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

      Thanks, Judy! Right back atcha.

  14. Kate Rauner February 8, 2015 at 7:31 am #

    I’m with you on the need for reviews, but I’ve used “free” on Smashwords and – once they pick up on the Smashwords price – Amazon without getting those precious reviews. Could you tell me more about the free ebook sites? Do you get higher % of downloads leading to reviews? And – how do you use those reviews to help sales. Obviously, comments from real readers help with writing, but for sales… especially on The Big Dog Amazon. Thanks 🙂

    • Molly Greene February 8, 2015 at 9:02 am #

      Kate, there seems to be a huge difference between setting a book’s price to “free” and using vendors like free ebook sites to promote that free book. I’m just starting, as noted, so I’m not an expert, but advertising your freebie leads to more downloads, more free downloads net more reviews, more reviews for a book help sell it (maybe because it makes a book look popular?), it’s just the way it seems to work. Many, many authors have written about their varied experiences with free giveaways, and I have to defer to them! Hope this helps.

      • Kate Rauner February 8, 2015 at 9:28 am #

        Thanks for sharing your experience – do you (or anyone reading this 🙂 ) have favorite free ebook sites? I’ve tried googling and there are so many its overwhelming.

        • Molly Greene February 8, 2015 at 9:53 am #

          As noted in this post – BMT’s free ebook submission tool will gain you access to over 30 of them for $15, and BookBub is every author’s favorite on the pricey end.

  15. Walter Danley February 8, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    Molly, you keep the great responses coming! Just wondered if you plan on attending the IBPA Publishing University in April? #PubU2015
    Love to thank you in person for the fantastic resource you are to Indies.

    • Molly Greene February 8, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

      Thanks so much Walter! Sadly, no conferences planned in 2015. Bet you’ll love it, though!

  16. Lauryn April February 8, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    Saw this on twitter. Thanks for sharing! I was really excited to hear that pre-orders went well for you. I’ve been looking into those for my next book. And, don’t sweat the 1 Star review, everyone gets one eventually.

    • Molly Greene February 8, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

      Thanks, Lauryn! Yes, I liked the pre-order process a lot, it was easy to do, and as for the 1*, no biggie. 🙂

  17. Aya Walksfar February 15, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    Good information, as always. Especially the information about pre-orders. I am going to try that on my upcoming release for this spring. Didn’t get the ten reviews for my latest release on Valentine’s Day, but got four up on the same and one that couldn’t find the place to write the review. (We got that cleared up for her!)
    Have a great week, Molly.

    • Molly Greene February 16, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

      Hi Aya! Thank you so much and HUGE congratulations on your production (you go, girl!) as well as your upcoming release. Reviews continue to be a challenge, and it’s the one reason why I now question my decision not to promote until I had three books. Ahhhh, well.