Out With the Old, In With the New

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the nostalgic experience of tossing out old papers and magazine clippings on a variety of topics. Since then, I’ve started purging my writing-related files which has also been a nostalgic exercise. I found folders containing pamphlets and notes, and old itineraries from conferences going back to 1997. I found a folder containing news clippings about famous Canadian authors including Mordecai Richler, Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies, Carol Shields, and many others. I brought to the students of the Saturday morning writing workshops I facilitate.

I found five different folders containing story ideas, partially completed first drafts and the occasional completed draft. Some of the ideas I did use, others I’ve now discarded, and a few I kept because they still resonate with me. Thankfully, it’s all in one file now 😊 The purging will continue over the next couple of weeks, but I see an end in sight, thank goodness.

As mentioned last week, I’m resuming book promotions for 2023. The first is a BookFunnel $.99 sales promo for my second Casey Holland mystery, Deadly Accusations. This group promotion features over 140 discounted crime fiction titles to choose from, which you find HERE:

The second event is a newsletter signup promo, offering an even more varied selection of books including free mystery, humor and romances, which is available HERE:

Since many of you, including me, are still experiencing freezing winter temperatures, this is a perfect time to try new authors and curl up with some great ebooks.

BookFunnel Promotion Results

A year ago, I decided to try regular promotions of my books through BookFunnel. For those who are unfamiliar with the site, it’s a selling and promotional tool for books in various formats. The site helps you to grow your mailing list, sending out ARCs, and other things. You can be either exclusive to Amazon or you can use multiple platforms. It’s up to you.

I don’t use this service for everything yet, but I do use it to build my mailing list by joining group promos to find potential readers. I also use it to offer my books at discounted prices through the group promos. These ongoing events are available in all kinds of categories. There are requirements and restrictions, but I found that after my first event, I easily met each promoter’s requirements. Once you familiarize yourself with BookFunnel, it’s reasonably easy to navigate and set yourself up with ‘Landing’ pages. I understand that there’s a free option but on the advice of others I opted in to pay the $150 annual fee and sync my newsletter provider with BookFunnel.

While setting up my pages, I decided to offer my first Casey Holland mystery, The Opposite of Dark for free and did so for seven months in 2022. I scheduled sales events at about the same rate, and consistently discounted my books for $.99, but you can choose other price points, depending on the promoter’s guidelines. I chose this low price to generate sales of other books in my series at the regular price, which worked to some extent.

The final tally for 2022 is 698 free downloads of The Opposite of Dark, by working with at least five different promoters over the year. What I’ve found, though, is that a percentage of new subscribers stayed only long enough to get the free book then unsubscribe. More left over the following weeks and months, but others joined, so it’s been a constantly fluid situation. Still, I have more subscribers than I started with in 2022.

I sold 72 ebooks through BookFunnel last year, but I’d say that only about 30% of them were purchased at the regular price of $3.99. Now that I have a baseline to work with, I can look for ways to improve my stats in 2023. With my pending move this could be a hit-and-miss endeavor, but if I don’t let readers know about my books, they’re not going to sell. I’ll post the new promos next week. I’m also pondering whether I should raise my ebook price by $1.00 to $4.99 each, although this might not be a smart idea. Any thoughts? And if you want to learn more about BookFunnel, I’ve suppled the link HERE.

Appreciating Breaks in the Routine

2023 has been a daily routine of editing, writing, sorting, and recycling. The sorting and shredding part is already tedious, so I’m switching to bookcases this week. This photo shows just one third of a bookcase that fills the entire wall. I’ve managed to clear out a bookcase outside my office over recent months, but clearly, there’s more to do. Of course, I won’t give up my favorites, but near favorites will be a tougher decision.

I’ve also enjoyed some welcoming distractions this month. One involved meeting new writers and reacquainting with others I hadn’t seen since before Covid. Our area has an organization called the Tri-City Wordsmiths. This year, I attended their annual AGM meeting, which was also a potluck social. By the time we introduced ourselves and described what we were writing, I found myself with five volunteer beta readers for my urban fantasy, which will be ready by the end of February. Honestly, I hadn’t expected such positive feedback. It also speaks to the power of networking.

The following day, I attended an interesting workshop, on psychic and magical development as research for future fantasy and paranormal novels. Next session, I’m learning about psychometry and the six ‘clairs’. Clairvoyance, claircognizance, clairsentience, and so forth. For me, January always feels like a good time to learn something new.

Last but not least, I’ve enjoyed two great visits with my granddaughters, which are always favorite distractions. 😊

How is your month going? Is your year off to a good start?

Prepping for Christmas

It’s that time of year. Decorating (the ornament in the photo is one of my favorites), shopping, wrapping, and Christmas card writing (yes, I still send a few out) are in full swing. I participated in my last craft fair on Saturday and after five weekends of bookselling, I’m ready to call it a year. Stepping out of my comfort zone to talk about books to strangers is both exciting and daunting. I met several wonderful vendors who sell their products year-round, but I don’t have the stamina to follow their lead. While it’s satisfying to have repeat customers return for the next book in my series, writing is still my favorite part of the business.

My granddaughters visited last week. Two-year-old Ellie started removing ornaments that attracted her (including this pink flamingo), which is why I placed the unbreakable ones near the bottom. Yesterday, I visited them, which was the most relaxing part of my week. There’s something extremely calming about playing with a two-year-old and holding a 4-month-old smiling baby in my arms. I’ll get to do a lot of that this holiday, and for that I’m extremely grateful.

Aside from Christmas, I find myself already pondering writing goals for 2023. I’m also thinking about our pending move in the spring and the to-do list forming in my head. I’ll be sorting out my office and donating books in January. There’s much to think about, but one thing at a time, right?

On the promo front: I’m taking part in a new BookFunnel “Fill Your e-Readers for Free” promotion which ends on January 1st. So if you’re looking for new mystery authors to try, this is the perfect time, which you can check out HERE.

Knock Knock and The Blade Man are still on sale for $.99 till Dec. 31st HERE, as is A Gold Satin Murder is available HERE.

Updates, Discounts, and a Question

Great news! We have now officially purchased the house I mentioned in last week’s blog. 2023 will be another hectic year but in a different way. As we won’t actually be moving until some time in the spring, I’ll be spending Jan. and Feb. sorting, recycling, and packing. As advised by a good friend, we also have the option of hiring help to do this, which we might do. I’ll still keep writing, but will put in far fewer hours. It’ll be a welcome break from the physical activity.

As also mentioned last week, A Gold Satin Murder is now on sale for $.99 until Dec. 31st. 25 authors are offering their completed crime novels or novellas at discounted prices on a variety of platforms. Please check the link HERE

For some time now, writers have been told that to help acquire a publisher or an agent, they should have a strong social media presence. Earlier this week, a writing colleague, who recently attending a local writers’ summit, learned that this might not be the case anymore. Apparently, lots of Facebook and Twitter followers isn’t as important to publishers as it was a couple of years ago. The reason given for the change of attitude is that readers aren’t as engaged with social media as they once were.

There might be something to that. Perhaps it’s due to Covid fatigue, where we had to sit in front of screens much more frequently to connect with friends and family or do our jobs. Perhaps it’s the rise of hate-filled rhetoric or misinformation out there. I suspect it’s a combination of all of the above and possibly more.

Personally, I haven’t changed my social media habits, but I will if things become too intense. I stick with writing communities, yet don’t join any Goodreads or Linkedin groups. Nor do I keep apps on my phone. With all the controversy surrounding Twitter lately, a number of writing colleagues have left and moved to Hive and Mastodon, neither of which I’ve investigated yet.

So, here’s what I’d like to know. Are you less engaged on social media than you were two or three years ago? Do you find it less valuable for connecting or promoting your books? Have you thought about leaving entirely? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Just When You Think…

Just when you think you have things all worked out, life takes a couple of turns in the road. I had planned to spend the fall solely focused on bookselling at craft fairs and writing, however, plans have changed slightly. It’s partly due to time-consuming medical tests I hadn’t anticipated when I committed to the craft fairs. Although I feel healthy, the doctors want to take a closer look at my lungs. The tests were arranged long before I contracted Covid, and honestly, I’m glad the doctors are watching out for me.

Secondly, this weekend we placed an offer on a house only two blocks away from my grandkids, which was accepted. We’re working on arranging financing, etc, before the final documents are signed, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Right now, it’s nearly an hour’s drive to reach my daughter and son-in-law’s home and the older I get the less I want to drive. Downsizing will be tough. We’ve lived in this house for over 35 years. We were married in the backyard and raised our kids here, but I really believe this is the right time for change. Needless to say, I won’t be publishing a book in 2023, and writing and marketing will likely slow down.

This is why I’m making a final push before this year is over. I’m taking part in two or three BookFunnel promotions and first up is a $.99 sale on Casey Holland mystery #5, Knock Knock, and #6, The Blade Man. This is part of BookFunnel’s ‘Black Friday Deals’ promotion, featuring a large roster of authors who have free and discounted books to choose from. You can find it HERE!

A short blurb for Knock Knock:

When a home invasion kills senior Elsie Englehart, security officer Casey Holland is devastated. Part of her latest assignment is to watch over elderly bus riders in an area frequently targeted by a group of thugs. Determined to keep others safe, Casey escorts an elderly man right to his home, only to come under attack by an armed intruder. Hospitalized and angry, Casey struggles to regain control of her life, despite interference from family and colleagues, and the postponement of her wedding. Yet another home invasion compels Casey to take action, but at what cost to her health and her relationships?

And The Blade Man:

Who is the Blade Man and why has he been attacking Mainland Public Transport bus drivers? And who is trying to burn MPT down? The company’s president orders security officer Casey Holland to launch an internal investigation or face termination. Convinced she’s being set up to fail and with her wedding only weeks away, Casey desperately needs answers. Forced to take deeper risks, how far can Casey go before someone dies?

I’ll be doing another for A Gold Satin murder beginning Dec. 1st, but more about that next week.

Meanwhile, after Christmas, I’ll prepare a lengthy to-do list of sorting and recycling. Christmas and New Year’s will be downtime with the family, and I can’t wait!

Bookselling, Christmas Shopping, and Grandkids

I’m relieved to say that my bout with Covid lasted only ten days before I tested negative, and I was feeling much better before that. The only side effect is more fatigue than usual but that’s fine. I’m a big believer in napping.

Because weekends in November and December are busy with craft fair markets, which also requires some prep time, I’m not writing a lot these days. There’ll be plenty of time for that in January. Right now, I’m happy to spend the occasional Saturday and Sunday, chatting with craft fair customers and selling print books. I meet the most interesting people at the fairs and some incredibly talented vendors, which is where I do most of my Christmas shopping.

Happily, I’ve already started the shopping thanks to last weekend’s fair. I don’t like leaving things to the last minute, but I also prefer to really get going after Remembrance Day, which is almost upon us. We must never forget, particularly in these challenging times.

Best of all, I’ve been spending time with my grandkids, Abby and Ellie, this week and last, which adds a bright light in my life. Really, the smile of a three-month old baby is all one needs to feel better, so I’m sharing a photo . Maybe they’ll bring a smile for you.

Abby’s cheeks are much chubbier than her sister’s were. She smiles a lot and gurgles happily whenever some reads a book to her. She loves book and watching hockey on TV, too. She takes after her grandma!

Ellie loved being a pumpkin on Halloween and insisted on wearing her costume for at least two days after the event.

Whirling Through Autumn

Autumn’s always a busy time for writers with conferences, workshops, book launches, courses, readings, and many other events. When you’re launching a book during this period, the activity really ramps up. It’s why I feel a bit like an autumn leaf that’s been swept up on the wind and swooshed from place to place.

To be clear, I enjoyed wonderful experiences in September by meeting writing friends and colleagues, most of whom I haven’t seen in over 4 years. Spending time with them was restorative for the soul. Below is a photo of one of four events that took place last week. It was a joint launch/reading with writing colleague A.J. Devlin, who’s just launched his third mystery, Five Moves of Doom. He’s created a great character in former pro wrestler turned private investigator, in ‘Hammerhead’ Jed. If you’re looking for great whodunits with a lot of humor, check out A.J.’s website HERE.

Joint Reading/Launch, Sep. 28

Writing-related tasks continue for A Gold Satin Murder. I’m currently updating back and front matter in all of the Casey Holland ebooks. I’m also taking part in a query letter workshop through the Creative Academy focusing on my urban fantasy, which is proving to be a great experience. Query letters and a book synopsis require many drafts for me, for most writers actually, but I’ve decided to search for a traditional publisher and both are an essential tools in the process.

Today, I’m taking it easy as I had my vaccine booster yesterday and have a very sore arm and a bit of fatique today. Also, here in Canada, Thanksgiving is this weekend and I’m hosting the family dinner. I can’t wait for family time. I see my granddaughters once a week, and little Abby looks different on every occasion. I’ll share pictures next week.

Ordering links for A Gold Satin Murder:

AMAZON

APPLE BOOKS

KOBO

BARNES & NOBLE

GOOGLE PLAY

I’m visiting JP McLean’s blog today!

I’m delighted to be visiting award-winning author JP McLean’s blog today. JP has given me a great set of questions to answer, so please drop by and check it out!

Visiting Wendy Hawkin’s blog today

Hi everyone, today I’m visiting fellow BC Writer, Wendy Hawkin, where I answer the question, where did Eduardo come from and what was the inspiration for this book? Find out HERE

By the way, Wendy writes terrific fantasy/mysteries with some pretty amazing characters! Please check out her books while you’re there 🙂

Amazon: https://mybook.to/AGoldSatinMurder

Kobo Canada: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Kobo U.S. https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6443255297

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-gold-satin-murder-debra-purdy-kong/1141951058?ean=2940166433930