On the Writing Life (Nine Novels in Eight Months, or Insanity)


Several months ago, I told folks here on Magical Words that I was going to write nine novels for publication in 2014, publishing one a month from April through December.

Klasky-PerfectPitch200x300I lied.Klasky-CatchingHell200x300  I’m writing nine novels for publication in 2014, publishing them all in eight months.  Perfect Pitch debuted on March 31, and the ninth novel, Always Right will appear on November 4, 2014.  The second Diamond Brides novel, Catching Hell, debuted on April 13.  That “double dip” — two books in one month — was designed to bolster sales for the series, to let readers who liked the first one know that there’s more where that came from, and to keep them looking on the first Sunday of every month till the series ends.

I’ve talked elsewhere about how I alternate writing days and administrative-task (including household task) days.  And I’ve explained my strategies for writing fast.  Today, I’m here to talk about the flip side of writing — promoting books.

Diamond Brides is a major departure for me.  The books are pure romance, without any speculative fiction element.  They’re short.  They’re hot (that is, they contain several scenes of explicit sex). 

Given all of these departures from my writing norm, I faced a major challenge:  promoting the books so that people understood what they were getting.  I decided to meet that challenge with a three-prong attack:

  1. Engage potential readers through my social media, including my blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
  2. Purchase advertisements to spread the word about the book.
  3. Solicit reviews from established reviewers and readers of the book.

And then, because I’m Mindy, I created a Promotion Plan that listed the specific dates when I would do specific actions to accomplish each of those goals.  I figured the plan would be useful for other books, so I created it in a general format, rather than a date-specific format.  The first five entries look like this:

Day -120:  Send review copy to RT Book Reviews

Day -90:  Contact ad services (prices are as of July 2013; they probably have changed)

Day -90:  Contact bookstore to schedule in-person launch party

Day -60:  Submit to Library Thing Early Review

Day -60:  Publish book to Amazon and Barnes & Noble with elevated pre-release price, to receive reviews from Library Thing Early Review reviewers

And so on, and so on, and so on.  Every promotional venue that I could think of got listed in the Plan.  As I scheduled my blog tour, each stop got listed with three entries — a delivery date for the blog post, a reminder date (to remind the blog owner to make the blog post), and a posting date (to remind myself to check back for comments).  Similarly, interviews, in-person events, and other activities got added. 

I used an online universal calendar to translate my -[number] and positive number entries to actual dates.

And then I work the Plan.  Day by day, week by week, I complete each task on the list.

Sometimes, I conclude that the tasks as I defined them are too onerous, or that the approach I thought I’d take isn’t working.  (For example, some of the advertising services that I identified don’t seem to be kept current and/or they’re too expensive for the results (as reported by other authors)).  In those circumstances, I edit the Plan and move forward.  The Plan is, after all, a guideline, a draft, a plan; it’s not Holy Writ.

The key, of course, is staying on top of things.  Most elements of the Plan can slip a day or two or ten.  But do I really want to be paying expedited shipping for my business cards, just because I pushed off designing them?  Do I want to miss the opportunity of placing a high-value ad because I waited too long, and the date I need was sold out?

So far, at +15 days, I’m on track.  Of course, there are seven and a half months left of this.  (The Plan assumes that later novels in the series will enjoy the benefit of my promoting earlier volumes.  We’ll see.  I might need to flesh out the later entries for the Plan.)

So, that’s my writing life these days.  It’s sort of like that TSA mantra:  “See something, say something.”  For me, it’s “see something, do something”.

What about you?  If you’re a published author, do you create promotion plans for your work?  Do you help authors with their plans, participating in things like cover reveals and launch day promotions?  If not, why not?  What would make you more likely to participate?

You can buy Perfect Pitch here.

You can buy Catching Hell here.

You can follow me on Twitter, or friend me on Facebook, or read my blog.

Formal Head Shot SquareMindy Klasky learned to read when her parents shoved a book in her hands and told her she could travel anywhere in the world through stories. She never forgot that advice.  Mindy’s travels took her through multiple careers – from litigator to librarian to full-time writer. Mindy’s travels have also taken her through various literary genres for readers of all ages – from traditional fantasy to paranormal chick-lit to category romance, from middle-grade to young adult to adult.  In her spare time, Mindy knits, quilts, and tries to tame her endless to-be-read shelf. Her husband and cats do their best to fill the left-over minutes.


9 comments to On the Writing Life (Nine Novels in Eight Months, or Insanity)

  • deborahblake

    My promotional plans are more like general ideas… and ended up changing around quite a bit due to circumstances (thank you so much, Amazon, for putting out the book 8 days before its formal release date–I had PLANS, dammit!). But I try to set out a set of general goals, and then plan a few things to help me meet those goals.

    Nothing nearly as ambitious as yours, though.

    There was one part of this I didn’t understand:”Publish book to Amazon and Barnes & Noble with elevated pre-release price, to receive reviews from Library Thing Early Review reviewers”

    What do you mean by “elevated pre-release price”? and how do you publish the book without releasing it, and what are Library Thing Early Reviews and how does one get them? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Deborah – Library Thing Early Review is a service run by Library Thing (www.librarything.com), where publishers offer ARCs of their books to LT members. Typically, a publisher will offer 100 e-ARCs and 250 (for example) LT members say they want the book. LT randomly chooses the 100 winners, and the publisher sends the LT members the book, with the goal that they’ll read it and review it before the release of the book. The great thing is an author collects early reviews, but the challenging thing is that those reviews live on LT, not one of the primary reviewing platforms.

    Some LT early reviewers are willing to copy their reviews to Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, and other platforms. (Typically, I email the reviewers, ask them if they’ll copy their reviews, and offer them a free copy of the next book in the series.) Yay, now we’ve solved the problem of LT being a limited platform.

    BUT, Amazon and B&N won’t take reviews for a book before it’s published. Sooooo, I published PERFECT PITCH in January, making the book available to anyone who was willing to pay $9.99 for the ebook. In the Product Description, I said, in bold, “This special pre-release price will be LOWERED to $2.99 on the official release date of 3/31/2014”. That way, people didn’t pay a surcharge unless they REALLY wanted the book (about a dozen people did.) Everyone else knew to wait. My LT reviewers had a “foundation” on which to park their reviews. On 3/31/2014, I changed the price — making it even lower, because I love my readers 🙂

    Make sense?

  • I haven’t had much chance to comment on your posts this month, Mindy, but I wanted to say how much I’m appreciating your take on things. It’s really neat to hear about the romance side of the business, especially given that I’d like to write that at some point, too.

    Thank you for picking apart the business side of this venture. I like how you’ve broken up the schedule of how things took place and were planned for. And the Facebook launch party was fun! The chance to win free copies made it even better, of course. I was “attending” while eating dinner, grocery shopping, and other stuff (yay multitasking), and I still found it quite enjoyable.

  • Laura – Thanks for your kind words! And for stopping in on the launch party as well 🙂 I’m glad you’re finding these posts helpful!

  • I’m kind of blown away by this level of organization – correction, I’m totally blown away.

    Right now I’m in re-organize mode because having a 2 year old has thrown a total monkey wrench into my previously no kids, no spouse life. It’s so much easier to organize just one person! I’m learning, slowly how to juggle more things. I have a post it note wall in my office now – each green post it is a project (WIP – in revisions, New Shiny, This Semester, Next Semester, Conference Paper, etc) Under each green label, I have a column of pink post its, each with a specific step that needs completion and its deadline date. When I don’t know what to do next I pull a post it and work on that.

  • Sarah – I don’t have kids, so I can only look on in awe as I read about you and other authors juggling such responsibilities (and joys, too, of course 🙂 ) I use an electronic version of your Post-It system — I keep separate electronic calendars for each aspect of my life (writing, paperwork, household chores, etc.), with to-do lists on each category entry. It sounds like you’re doing a great job adjusting to the next 20 years 🙂

  • Wow. I’m pretty organized as I approach my signing and blog tours, but this is positively inspiring. I’ll be seeking advice from you soon. Glad things are going well so far.

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