Monday, May 22, 2017

Some Kindle Scout Insights

So, I've finished my Kindle Scout campaign. My campaign ran from April 22nd until May 21st, 2017, and now I'm in the nebulous waiting period that can last anywhere from 1 day to 15 days. They will email me to let me know if I'm selected, and if I am, we work through their process and their timelines (generally, their program literature says I'll have about 30 days to spruce things up, then my book goes live, and the nominees get their free copies, and get prompted to review the book to increase visibility, and they'll use a few little promotional tools on my behalf, and they own the rights to my book for a certain period of time, with specific options for renewal, reversion, and things of that nature).

If I'm not selected, I still have the option to launch the book independently, I just won't get the advance, or the Amazon editing process, etc. If I launch the book independently, I retain all rights and can just advertise the book myself, as an independent author. If I choose to do this, Amazon seems to offer the ability to at least let my nominators know that the book has been released independently, which is nice.

Sitting here at the end of 30 days, I have a few things in the "if I had it to do over again" column I wanted to share, in case anyone else is thinking of doing Kindle Scout as well:

1) It's important to be Hot & Trending, as it increases your visibility, as well as your credibility to casual observers. It seems that relatively unknown authors, like me, are more likely to be Hot & Trending at the very beginning of their campaigns, and at the very end. This is because of the "Recently Added" and "Ending Soon" promo bars on which you can be featured during those timeframes. After that, getting and staying Hot & Trending is very challenging.

2) In light of this information, I would have picked a launch day where the beginning and the end of my 30 day campaign would land on a Tuesday/Wednesday. My campaign began on a Saturday and ended on a Sunday. Frankly, not many people are cavorting the Internet over the weekend. My clicks from Facebook were down those days, as were the organic Kindle Scout clicks. Based on my Campaign Views dashboard, regardless of when I posted on social media, my highest traffic days were usually Tuesdays or Wednesdays, with the exception of the very beginning and very end of my campaign, where activity spiked.

NOTE: Part of this is how nominations work. Users can only have 3 nominations active at a time. Your friends and family will probably only nominate you, so they will just set it and forget it right at the beginning of your campaign. Kindle Scout followers are more likely to Save your book, then nominate you during your final days, so they can maximize the number of nominations (and potential free books) and not have your book taking up a slot for the book's entire 30 day campaign.

3) Also in light of this information, I would have staggered my roll-out. I posted so that all of my Facebook friends (which was my biggest source of traffic) jumped on at once. This was great for the first five days of my campaign, but then things tapered off until the last 3 days. I think a better strategy for someone else doing this would be setting the Privacy settings on the Facebook posts so that you post only to 1/4 of your friends at the beginning of the campaign, then add friends to the posts as your campaign goes on so in week 2, 1/2 of your friends are seeing the posts, then 3/4 in week 3, then all of them in week 4.

This would be easy enough to do on Facebook - plus you could group it so that your most supportive friends see the posts first, and can do what they do best. Then, your more distant friends could be in later groups, sparing them spam until the end of the campaign. This would make your campaign traffic a little more consistent throughout the campaign - you'd (hopefully) get new nominations and new, fresh page views each week, from people who didn't know about it before.

4) I would also suggest networking actively with the other authors who are doing Kindle Scout. It's no time to be shy - if you like their book, reach out, and offer to cross-promote. I wouldn't suggest doing this if you don't like the author's book to begin with. But, for those you peruse and like, you have access to their campaign pages, where they link to their Facebook and author pages. So, make contact, and discuss some exchanges. The worst they can do is say "no." I did not do very much of this, because I am currently at a level where I don't have much to offer in exchange - my author page has limited followers, and I don't have a solid base of readers yet, but once I've grown a bit, I'd definitely do this in a heartbeat.

If you're thinking of doing Kindle Scout for yourself, I hope you'll find these ideas useful. If you've done Kindle Scout and have anything to add, feel free to chime in.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Remnants Now Available for Nominations via Amazon - Kindle Scout

I was accepted into the Amazon Kindle Scout Program! This is really exciting, as it means I could get selected for a publishing contract with Amazon! And that means promotional opportunities and things I otherwise couldn’t get as easily as a fledgling author. It’s also a pretty good fit for me and the kind of writing I do now, while still working hard on my law career.

For the Scout program, they want to know you have a marketable book, so they ask you to collect votes before they decide to award you with the publishing contract. Since it’s through Amazon, you don’t have to sign up for anything extra outside your usual Amazon account, and voting is FREE. Also, if you vote and I get published, you get a FREE copy of the eBook when it’s published! So, I’m asking folks if they wouldn’t mind voting for my book on the Scout page:

Also, if you might consider copying & pasting the link to share on Facebook/Twitter/Your Blog/Your dog (… OK not really, though dog shirts are cool…), I’d be eternally grateful. This is a really good opportunity, so I appreciate your support.

IN ADDITION, if I do get selected for the publication opportunity, I receive a small advance. Some of it, I will be using to build up my author platform (a better website, for starters), but my intention is to take HALF of the net proceeds (i.e. after taxes) and donate to organizations I care about. I appreciate all the support I get to make my dreams come true, so I want to support others in their dreams and causes, too. So, after taxes, it’ll add up to about $200 per organization; and the places I’m giving to are:

  • ALIVE Rescue at (animal rescue in Chicago specializing in assisting dogs with canine influenza, which can often be a death sentence for dogs in shelters)
  •  National Novel Writing Month at (I’ve been working with them since 2007 to motivate and inspire new writers, and without them, I never would have written a book to begin with)
  • Locked Into Vacancy Entertainment at (an audio variety show in the style of old time radio, a number of my dearest friends are part of this company and I want to see them succeed)

I also wanted to mention another few folks who made this possible. The original idea for a dystopian take on Robin Hood came from the photo shoot designed and photographed via Steven Bourelle, whose incredible work can be found at - as well as Grayson Coleman-Selby, a talented Renaissance faire performer and worker who you can see LOTS MORE OF at 

Thank you again for your support!


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Continuing Adventures

So, a few of you may have checked out Remnants. This is my dystopian take on the Robin Hood tale, as inspired by this fabulous photo shoot right here from a few years ago, designed by my friend Grayson and shot by the talented Steven Bourelle of Bourelle Photography fame.

I've been doing NaNoWriMo for years, but Remnants was the first time I'd felt really inspired in a long time. I'm extremely thankful for the push it gave my imagination. With the flexibility the Wattpad platform provides, I may continue working on it for a while, fine-tuning it and coming up with fun iterations and edits.

The thing about writing for myself is, I get that freedom, and I'm enjoying it. So, I figured, for now, why not continue with the story? While I stuck with many traditional Robin Hood themes in the initial book, I want to expand on this world and keep going. So, today, I posted the first part of Remnants II, which I'm tentatively calling Broken Remnants.

These are just working titles for now, and perhaps as the story unfolds I will get a bit more creative. I want to focus on making it a trilogy, as I think that's a good format for a comprehensive tale. I'm not sure I'd do more than that in this world - I don't see it spinning endlessly into a series, though I guess since it's up to me, I can keep going for as long as it's fun.

I hope you enjoyed the first installment enough to keep going along with me. Thank you to everyone who has read and commented, whether publicly or privately. In this, I work for encouragement and love right now, and every little bit helps.

The cover is just a placeholder at this point as well, as I'm torn between different ideas for what to do. But, I wanted to have something in there, as even simple images can spark the imagination!

(Insert witty blog ending here). (No, seriously, I hate trying to end blog posts, I'm so bad at it. I get torn between something casual and non-committal, or something inspirational and overly-cheesy). (Should I be funny? I don't even know. Ugh.). (How do you even punctuate with parentheses?).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hi Friends.

So, I'm a terrible blogger, as evidenced by not posting in... um. A few. Years.

It's just not my platform. But, I'd like to try again, so.

I'm still participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and am one of the co-MLs for the ChiWriMo region, which I love doing.

I'm also part of the Bristol Renaissance Faire, which isn't writing related but is related to creativity and inspiration.

Related to that, I'm editing one of my NaNoWriMo novels from a couple years ago, which was inspired by a photo shoot done by some of my favorite Bristolians.

I've edited in fits and starts; the first part of the novel is probably in its forth iteration, while the second part is less polished, having only been glossed over a couple times. The ending is the biggest struggle for me, as I've gone back and forth on what I'd like to do with it a few times. But, eventually, the ending has to end.

I'm working on it semi-live-action via Wattpad, and you can find the book, which I've tentatively titled Remnants, right there. I hope you'll check it out and provide some input and feedback! (gently, please, but still honestly)

OK, that's all I have for now. DO YOU SEE WHY I HATE BLOGGING? HOW DO YOU EVEN END A BLOG POST. OH EM GEE GUYS. OK no really have a good day.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What if...

Not too too long ago, a lot of articles were going viral about being an introvert versus being an extrovert. We learned how to treat an introvert correctly and not to judge introverts for being... introverted.

I've tended to call myself introverted for a long time now, but recently I've started to wonder. I've been working at the Bristol Renaissance Fair for the whole summer season now, and while I come away tired each weekend - working 2 twelve hour days in a row in the summer heat, wearing a stifling costume and being on your feet all day is an endurance trial - I also come away inspired and energized in a way I haven't felt in a long time.

This is even though I spend the entire weekend interacting with people - meeting up with my fair friends in the evenings, improvising and interacting with patrons all day, I really do not get much time alone.

I then come home to my rather isolated job - either working quietly on legal issues or freelance writing - and immediately feel sad, drained, and exhausted.

Given that we've seemed to reach an agreement that introversion versus extroversion refers to how we gain our energy - either feeling drained by being among others, or feeling increasingly energized the more we are around people - it would appear that I might actually be an extrovert.

Arriving at this conclusion is kind of throwing me for a loop, as I've been a self-proclaimed introvert for so long. But maybe I did not realize that I'm actually an extrovert because I've just been afraid of people for most of my life. Is it possible to be an extrovert with social anxiety?

The story of why I'm afraid of people is long, boring, and probably is the same reason anybody's afraid of people - a combination of oversensitivity, having some stunted social development for whatever reason, being kind of awkward and weird, and some overarching insecurity, and you can quickly start to see yourself as an introvert, even if what you really want is to be around people. You convince yourself you don't, though, because it's too scary.

So, my thought is, what if I'm really just an extrovert who never learned how to properly extrovert? What if I'm just... a really socially awkward extrovert? Somehow, when I thought of this earlier, I identified with it and suddenly felt a lot more comfortable in my own skin. 

Do you identify yourself as introverted or extroverted, or maybe "something else"? Are we all too focused on this idea of introversion vs. extroversion, or is it a useful characterization to achieve a better understanding of ourselves and each other?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Promo - Now until July 1st

Hi friends!

Anyone who has known me for about 5 minutes knows I'm a huge proponent of National Novel Writing Month. Well, they need a bit of help - their Young Writer's Program (YWP) website is getting a bit old and in need of some sprucing up. This is used by thousands of teachers and students each year to cultivate a love of the written word in the classroom while also fulfilling essential national learning standards throughout the US.

They are currently trying to raise $50,000 to overhaul the site. If you can make a direct donation, please go here and do so.

If you need just a little more convincing or want a little something more to sweeten the deal, I'm currently making a pledge: for every copy of my book, On Her Own Two Wheels, purchased between now and July 1st, I will donate the royalties directly to NaNoWriMo immediately upon receipt, including both Kindle and paperback versions.

If you know me in person and want a paperback copy, I'm also selling my limited number of promotional paperback copies for the discounted price of $5 each, of which the entire $5 will be donated to NaNoWriMo.

Support the stories of tomorrow and, however you do it, consider funding their wonderful programs so that teachers and students can continue to enjoy them in the classroom in the years to come!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Writing Resources, Communities, and Stuff I Love

In order to motivate myself to get going again, I've decided to compile a list of writing resources I love. I hope you find it useful!

1) NaNoWriMo. Whenever someone asks me about writing, this is, without fail, the first thing I tell them about. NaNoWriMo runs every November. You write 50,000 words in one month in order to win bragging rights and the knowledge that You Can Do It. My first novel, On Her Own Two Wheels, came from my first ever NaNoWriMo. Now, this fabulous program also includes:

A) Camp NaNoWriMo. Every April and July, you can set a word goal of your choice and work on a project type of your choice (novel, script, epic poem, short story, nonfiction, WHATEVER) with you and your cabin mates cheering each other on.

B) No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days (Amazon Affiliate link). I have read this book several times over and find new tidbits to highlight every time. It is inspirational and awesome.

2) The International 3 Day Novel Contest. As if writing 50,000 words in 30 days wasn't challenging enough, this insane contest calls for you to crank out a rough draft over America's Labor Day Weekend. Recommended goal: 25,000 words of original fiction. There is an entry fee and prizes for winners.

3) 642 Things to Write Journal (Amazon Affiliate link). Whenever I get stuck, I use these writing prompts to get un-stuck, generate new ideas, and feel writerly again.

4) This article about Amanda Hocking. Because it makes me feel like dreams are real.

A) Speaking of which, Amanda Hocking's blog. Because, again, it makes me feel like dreams are real.

5) Scrivener [Download] (Amazon Affiliate link). Writing tools can make all the difference in putting you in a writerly mood. I love Scrivener, just opening it makes me feel more writerly.

6) This free class from OpenLearn. It's just the basics, but skimming it can make you feel more like writing again and can stir up some long-dormant creative juices.

7) This article about marketing and building a fan base. This isn't like the field of dreams: just because you built a book doesn't mean people are gonna read it. You need to get readers, and this talks about how and the real math behind it all.

What are some of your favorite resources for writing? Or, if you're a reader, what do you like to read?