9 Lessons Since the Chance of a Lifetime
On April 22, 2016, I published a blog about my mangled BookBub promotion. It was a hot mess -- the promotion, not the blog. However, what I did learn is many readers are forgiving. They are willing to look beyond the technical issues and into the story. There were quite a few of them, and I appreciated the feedback I received on the story line and characters. There were also some readers who I could assume might be negative about many things. I forced myself to read the negative comments, because I wanted to determine the issues I could fix. It was a learning experience for me, and I made several friends who subscribed to my web site and encouraged me to keep writing. They were brutally honest in a good way. That's a strength, being able to encourage someone and critique them at the same time.
First of all, I will report that I have had over 100 GoodReads ratings on Tangled, a Southern Gothic Yarn. More than eighty-two percent were positive. The others commented on the mangled download, which was totally my fault and I offered another novel and/or an updated version of Tangled. To date I have forty new reviews on Amazon.com, with an average of 3.5 stars. I am good with this, especially since I botched the promotion, and I am such a beginner. I have also had a fifty percent increase in sales of Tangled and my other novels.
BookBub is a coveted promotion platform and deserving of the status. The promotions there are highly visible and many. There were over 40,000 downloads of Tangled, a Southern Gothic Yarn during the free promotion. It climbed dramatically in the free Kindle category, but I wasn't watching that because I was so focused on making it right for readers who received the hot mess of a download. BookBub is well worth the price of the promotion. There were many positives as a result, but I'll admit, at first I had to force myself to search for them. I have followers on BookBub now. Before the promotion I had none. These are the take-aways from my experience thus far. I am sure there will be more as time goes on:
1. Some readers will not read past the first curse word -- at least one reader. She stopped in Chapter Two in my book. I have to weigh the integrity of the character versus writing "bleep" in future novels. I'll consider it.
2. I'm a story-teller, maybe a good one, but I'm technically challenged. My focus should be to learn more about the technology, or outsource this task.
3. I need to stick to fewer characters for my novels. Readers don't know them as intimately as I do, or care about their influence in the backstory. Sometimes that influence doesn't require a name.
4. Each time I make a change, no matter how small, I need to review the entire manuscript.
5. I have a responsibility to other indie authors to make sure that what I put out there is not crap.
6. I need to learn more about the editing process and how to incorporate the edits into the manuscript without making it worse.
7. I need to use more contractions in dialogue and maybe I'll never write another character with dialect -- although there was just that one snarky comment.
8. I will review everything I read if I can give three stars or more, and give constructive critique where appropriate. Simply ragging on anyone who is putting themselves out there in such a public way is not a good thing. However, if I must consider the "raggers", I will try to take something away from it that I can change.
9. I have to own what I do, especially when it is a hot mess. No matter what, my name is written as big as I can get it on the cover. It's thrilling and scary as bleep.