Tag Archives: The Girl In Between

BookBub Results

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In my previous post I mentioned how my sales have suffered since the election–a common theme among indie authors–and how I decided to pay for marketing for the first time in my 5-year career.

BookBub is apparently a big deal. Since I was never interested in spending money on advertising I never really paid much attention but I did know that BookBub had built up a pretty good reputation for producing stellar results and that it’s almost impossible to be chosen for a coveted spot in one of their newsletters. Some indie authors have to submit their novels over a dozen times before they get picked. What seems to be key is a good cover, a steep discount, and hundreds of five-star reviews. Luckily, the first book in my paranormal series, The Girl In Between, possessed all three and I was selected my very first time applying.

My BookBub ad cost $115 and I selected to run it in the Teen/YA category. It was scheduled to go live on my birthday, June 21st.

It has since been 24 hours since the book first showed up on their website and here are my results:

BookBub 1

Before the ad ran I was giving away between 200-300 copies of my perma-free novel a day. Not too bad but nowhere close to the thousands a day that were being downloaded before January. The day the ad ran my perma-free novel was downloaded 18,149 times. Again, not bad, but not as many as I was expecting. I’d previously read several blog posts and case studies from authors who’d gotten at least 30,000 downloads in a single 24-hour period. But those books were also all in different categories so it’s possible that my results would be different if I’d chosen to run it in the paranormal category instead (I specifically chose Teen/YA because it was relatively cheap compared to the other categories).

BookBub likes to tout something called the “halo effect” as one of the benefits of their advertising. This means that, ideally, I’d experience additional sales and downloads for my entire backlist, which would peter out slowly, giving me more exposure on Amazon for a longer period of time. Interestingly, my paid sales did go up yesterday in addition to the free downloads (85 compared to 33 on the previous day–>still low compared to the 100+ I was selling per day before everything went wrong) but even though I still seem to be getting slightly above-average sales today, it’s not anything mind-blowing (it’s almost noon and I’ve sold 21 books). However, who knows how long people wait before they actually read the freebies they download. You also have to stop and consider that some might not read them at all. Or that they may not like the first book in the series and will choose not to continue. Or that they have to wait for payday before they can buy book number 2. With all of these things in mind, I think it’s best to not jump to any conclusions, and instead, just be patient.

The important thing right now is did I break even?
6/21 8:00AM- 6/22 12:00PM = $240
BookBub Ad = $115

Luckily, yes. But that wasn’t the purpose of this little experiment. The purpose was to see if it’s actually worthwhile to spend money on advertising, especially in this moment in time when our collective consciousness is a little preoccupied. I don’t have enough data to determine whether or not this was a success but I’ll be keeping an eye on this so-called “halo effect” that I’m supposed to be experiencing and will update this post over the next several days.

*update 6/25/17*

I’m on day 5 of post-BookBub sales and even though nothing life changing has happened I’m very pleased with the numbers I’ve achieved so far. As of today, The Girl In Between has been downloaded almost 25,000 times and my backlist has sold 324 copies (these numbers have been updated below). Prior to the ad, a typical 5-day period looked more like this: 200-300 free downloads/day; 30-40 books sold/day. It was keeping me in the $2,000-$3,000 range each month once you factored in page reads as well. But prior to January, I was making anywhere between $4,000 and $7,000 per month, which I would love to get back to. The goal for 2018 is to finally reach $10,000 a month and hover around that number with some consistency. After my little BookBub experiment, I can definitely see how running one on a regular basis might help me achieve this goal.

However, at this point I’ve also realized that one of the drawbacks of BookBub is the very thing that makes it so attractive (and lucrative) for authors in the first place. It has a huge audience and offers an excellent selection to it’s customers. The problem is, BookBub changes that selection EVERY DAY, which means that while your book is shooting up to the top of the Amazon charts, there’s another set of books waiting to be advertised by BookBub and ready to knock you from your spot the very next day. In one sense, this means that everyone gets a fair turn. But it also limits how long your book will be in the spotlight. Even if you get an insane amount of downloads that, in the old days, would have kept you in the top 100 for weeks, that longevity is no longer possible with BookBub ads being so directly connected to Amazon’s indie bestsellers.

What I’m watching for now is what kind of longevity is still possible and how long BookBub’s famous “halo effect” actually lasts.

*update 6/27/17*

Despite the majority of my books being wide I have always made about 99% of my income from Amazon. I know other indie authors whose earnings are much more widely distributed but I’ve never known where to start when it comes to reaching readers on platforms besides Kindle. In fact, I often forget that my books are being sold on other platforms altogether. For example, it didn’t occur to me until today that I should check my draft2digital portal to see how my BookBub ad did on Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and the other platforms where my books are published.

Results:

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Needless to say, I was pretty shocked! And kicking myself for having always overlooked these other platforms in the past. The fact that my books are now being read by people who own devices other than Kindle is huge and opens up so many opportunities in terms of additional revenue.

Numbers from D2D and Amazon updates have been reflected below.

Total *FREE* Downloads since 6/21:     37,385
Total Paid Downloads since 6/21:          653

 

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The Daughter of the Night Available for Pre-Order

THE TIME HAS COME!

The Amazon gnomes have finally gotten my pre-order links up and running for The Daughter of the Night. They’re still working on getting all of my new covers uploaded and also on price-matching The Boy in Her Dreams, which is now $2.99 on all other platforms (that means you should get a copy now *or gift one to a friend* while the low price of $0.99 still lasts).

TDOTN.v7

Reserve your copy of book 4 here:

The Daughter of the Night: The Girl In Between Book 4

And in more GREAT news…I now have a brand spankin’ new website, which you can visit here: http://www.laekanzeakemp.com…and where you will find information about The Daughter of the Night soundtrack!

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YES, an actual soundtrack as in the story set to actual sound, which you can actually listen to while you read!

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Re-read The Girl In Between Chapters 31-35

RereadInitial Feelings: Terrified–I’m so far removed from the writing of this novel that I find myself anxiously anticipating the next two books with the same high expectations as my readers. Except mine are probably higher. From here on out every mistake is going to stick out like a thorn because everything myst be remedied in the finale. Every loose thread snipped or tied; every plot hole fixed and filled. And it all starts here with these last few chapters, with the deer, with the shadows, with Roman’s first breaths in the real world.

Initial Thoughts: This. is. it.

31-34

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*This has to be one of my favorite sections of the entire series. Every word and every sentence was strategic. Reading it now, the rhythm alone reminds me of Roman being tossed in by the waves. Churning, rolling, gaining momentum. And then everything comes to a crashing halt. And then Bryn…. Honestly, as an author, it hurt me to hurt Roman. These last few chapters really rip him to shreds and his suffering continues into the next book. My heart aches for him here, especially since I know what’s coming. More pain. More discoveries. And then I think…how do I give him the ending he deserves? What does he deserve? What does he want? Will the end of Bryn’s story allow me to make him a hero too? That’s what Roman wants. That’s what I want too. But I’ve learned that I am never in control as much as I think I am and sometimes that’s not just terrifying but heartbreaking.

3134Q4*After Bryn discovers that Roman’s been in a car accident, her desperation really transforms her in an unexpected way. For the first time her thoughts reveal how much she’s really wanted to be loved and her most powerful fears revolve around Roman in the real world no longer being able to give her that. Her character is usually fiercely independent and even after all her back and forth with Drew she really is resolved to this idea that she won’t ever be able to be in a real relationship. But Roman changes all of that for her and in the last few chapters her fears make her vulnerable in a way that almost comes across as a little self-centered but really it’s just desperation. She’s so close to having something she never thought she would have and the thought of losing it–of losing Roman, of losing her chance at being normal, of losing the closest thing to a cure she’s ever had–is devestating.

*Chapter 34 was just a few paragraphs as I neared the final draft of the novel. I knew that it needed to be longer and that Roman needed a more significant triumph over his own demons, even if it was only temporary, I just wasn’t sure how to get there. It wasn’t until I was deep into the second draft of book 2 that I realized Roman’s mother needed to play a much bigger role throughout the series and that her haunting of him could serve as this really climactic moment in the first book. The final version of this chapter was being ripped apart and re-written right up until the night before I hit publish and one of my wonderful beta readers walked me through those revisions every step of the way. Now it’s one of my favorite chapters and really captures the style of book 2, which is dark and heavy and tragic and everything I love about this series.

3134Q2*Bryn and Roman’s soul connection plays a more obvious and crucial role as the series goes on but from the very beginning they choose to believe in the inevitability of their relationship. I believe in soul mate connections and used Bryn and Roman’s relationship as a way of celebrating the durability of that kind of love. But even though they don’t believe in coincidences they still have to fight every step of the way, not only to survive, but to stay together. Book 1 really builds up this idea of “we are not a coincidence” and book 2 does its best to shatter it to pieces. I wasn’t trying to emotionally manipulate readers by creating this dark story where I suddenly rip the love interests apart. I just really appreciate stories where the love interests can evolve a part from one another because it reminds us that even though true love can exist, being loved does not validate our own existence. Bryn and Roman may belong together, they may even need each other to survive, but they are separate people and that’s important.

3134Q3*Much of the final scene in the novel came from a flash fiction piece I did in college after my father passed away. We had a timed writing assignment in class and the prompt was to write about the worst day of your life. At that point, it felt like I had been living the worst day of my life on repeat for the past seven months and as I wrote, I imagined scratching out every image, every horrible memory that I was sure would haunt me forever. Watching someone be so sick…watching someone die…it’s unlike anything. I can’t describe how painful it is. I can’t describe how helpless it makes you feel. I can’t describe the rage that burns every second of every day even after they’re gone. I needed Bryn to feel that helplessness. I needed her to face the physical manifestation of Roman’s choice and for it to break her in two. I tear up every time I read this final chapter and I remember trying to scrape the tears from my eyes just long enough to see the computer screen as I wrote it. Now when I think b3134Q5ack on those memories I wished I could forget, the ones I used to
craft this entire novel,  I realize that pain is an indispensable tool, one that can hurt and heal at the same time.

heartfog

 

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Re-read The Girl In Between Chapters 26-30

RereadInitial Feelings: Starving (Thanks time change). Wobbly (Thanks workout). Old (Thanks Halloween).

Initial Thoughts: I’m about to hit some rapid fire pacing. Here comes the home stretch. As well as an introduction to a plethora of new life issues-mild eating disorders, mental illness, identity crises, life & death, etc. I won’t lie, there are some parts of this novel that feel like you’re chugging along a steady stream and then all of the sudden you just drop straight off a cliff. Into SUPER DEEP FEELS. And I’m proud.

26-30

*The role of Roman’s mother developed the same way the role of Bryn’s father did. In the first book we’re introduced to two extremely flawed human beings whose flaws have had a harmful impact on the children they probably shouldn’t have had. But just like REAL people who suffer from alcoholism or mental illness, these issues are only the tip of the ice berg. In the case of Bryn’s father and Roman’s mother (who I just realized still needs a name, yikes!) the truth turns out to be something paranormal but these underlying causes still reflect the depth of people’s true suffering, which is so often overlooked. For Roman, I really just needed a reason for some of his thoughts and behavior. Before his car accident, he was obviously in a very dark place, 26-30Q2which we explore much more in book 2. He was reckless and lonely and suicidal and a lot of what he was feeling was totally internal. Yes, he had a strained relationship with his mother and that left him feeling inadequate and unloved but these feelings were exaggerated by the mental illness he also suffered from. Ultimately, this is something he and his mother end up having in common in a supernatural sense, but when you get right down to it, Roman the person (and not the superhero) was suffering from the very human issue of depression. These emotions physically manifest themselves later on as the shadows but all of that is just a metaphor for what so many teens and young adults are really going through.

*TGIB doesn’t delve very deeply into issues of body image and eating disorders BUT I did make a very conscious effort for Bryn’s attitudes about her body to sort of form in isolation, apart from what her peers (like Dani) are feeling/going through. Not only because she has trouble relating to them when it comes to most things anyway but also because I wanted Bryn’s idea of normal/healthy (which is also her idea of “perfection”) to really celebrate the female body. Bryn is used to her weight being all over the place because of her disorder, but because of the nature of the disorder, she often wakes up looking extremely thin and sickly. Bryn hates being reminded of her illness. She hates the control it has over her life and she especially hates the control it has over her body. So waking up and looking like a ghost is absolutely devastating to her. Unlike Dani, all Bryn wants is to look like the young woman that she is–curvy and dimpled and healthy. She just wants to be healthy. I’m glad that I could craft a character who truly values that above all else and views her body as a measurement of that health instead of a measurement of some unrealistic set of ideals that do nothing but cause young girls pain.

26-30Q1

*Bryn’s confrontation with Dr. Banz about what the shadows are and what they want was actually one of the last scenes I wrote and was finally finished just days before I uploaded the book on Amazon. I’ve mentioned before that the first few drafts of TGIB were minimal on the paranormal aspects–there were hints of them there but I hadn’t fleshed everything out yet. It took me jumping straight into writing book 2 before I finally got a solid grasp on this story. A lot of readers have pointed out that there’s a huge shift between book 1 and 2 and it’s resulted in a a darker atmosphere that’s turned some of those readers off. But, in my mind, that darker place is where the story was heading all along. I remember tweaking that chapter with Bryn and Dr. Banz talking about the shadows right up until the very last second. I went through multiple drafts, adding more clarification here, increasing the ambiguity there; just trying to strike a balance between what to share with the reader and what not to (mostly because there were still secrets I didn’t even know yet). Ultimately, the most pivotal scenes in this first book were written in the last few drafts, which taught me a lot about the development of a story and how deadlines don’t dictate endings. Sometimes authors don’t either. Sometimes stories take these left turns and all the writer can do is ride the curve or the steep incline or drop off the edge of the cliff along with her readers. So that’s what I did for most of this series. I took a deep breath, my fingers poised over the keys of my laptop, and I dove head first into the unknown, over and over again.

RT

26-30Q3*Trying to capture the emotional intensity of being a musician when you are not a musician is seriously difficult. I tried to learn to play the guitar once, but, you see, my hands never grew past 4th grade and also I have a tendency to get easily discouraged, especially when there is pain involved (Yes, I’m a wimp). BUT I do know what it’s like to create and that sense I think artists are really all the same. It doesn’t matter what our tools are. All that matters is how that experience of making something out of nothing makes us feel and it’s a feeling we can all relate to, even if we can’t always describe it.

*And to sum up my own high school experience…

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*And if Bryn’s grandmother wasn’t everyone’s favorite already…

26-30Q5

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Re-read The Girl In Between Chapters 21-25

RereadInitial Feelings: Optimistic about my re-read timeline. Pumped about NANOWRIMO and finishing book 4! Followed by immediate hopelessness when I remember how much homework I have left to do.

Initial Thoughts: 10 chapters in one day..totally doable. Especially now that things are just getting REAL. and SCARY. REAL FREAKING SCARY. Maybe I should leave HGTV on in the background…just in case.

21-25

*Bryn being an artist was definitely a conscious choice. Again, it was so important for me to create a character with depth who had an actual life and goals and interests and skills. Damsel’s in distress generally have nothing going for them and basically mope through life waiting to be saved. Not only does Bryn REFUSE to wait around to be saved but, despite her illness, for most of the people in her life, she’s the one doing the saving. I also think it’s important that she had some kind of tangible outlet for her disease. Her intention isn’t necessarily to make something beautiful out of it. She just wants to create. To create these pieces of her that are separate from her illness and that have the power to outlast her. It’s the goal of all artists, but one that’s even more heartbreakingly real for someone suffering from a debilitating illness.

*Music plays a significant role in this first book, both as a source of hope that Roman is actually real and a crucial part of Roman’s identity, which he revisits later on during his recovery process. I wrote this novel while I was living in Florida with my boyfriend. I’d just graduated from college and he was finishing up school and getting his degree in the recording arts. Which meant that it was all music all day every day. Talking about music, listening to music, analyzing music, making music. (*Side note* sprawled out on the couch, the laptop against my knees, and my boyfriend’s guitar knocking against my foot while he plays is still my favorite way to write) It turned out that 80% of my coworkers at the time were also secretly musicians–the depth and diversity of the music scene in Orlando one hundred percent rivals that of places like Austin or Nashville–so I was exposed to so much creativity that naturally found its way into my writing. During the past few years so many indie writers have partnered with independent musicians to create another dimension to the stories they create and I can’t wait to continue to explore these other avenues of storytelling. What does this mean within Bryn’s universe? It means that Mismatched Machine may or may not come to life in a really epic way and get a story of their own. Someday. Like once I’m done with this series. And my other standalone. And school. But, yeah…! Soon!2125Q1*Another writing “rule” that I can’t always get behind is the notion that you shouldn’t use any real pop culture references in your work, such as movie titles or band names. I understand this…somewhat. Putting in things like that can certainly age a novel and make it harder for some readers to connect to it, especially if they don’t end up discovering the novel until years after the original publication date. During one creative writing class, my classmates and I argued with my professor about the inclusion of the term “bucket list” and whether or not it was too much of a pop culture reference. Apparently, a movie by that title had come out that year and even though my cw prof. should have been an expert on the history of the English language, he had somehow never heard the phrase, “kick the bucket.” Long story short, the author held his ground and left it in. Bryn’s story is marked by a lot of current references that I could have chosen to leave out. BUT…this story was more about writing for me, about writing something that would capture parts of my life that I was afraid of forgetting. When someone you love dies and all 2125Q3you’re left with are memories, you realize how important they are. Even the small things are worth saving. So that’s what I did. Bryn’s story isn’t just some paranormal romance novel for teens, but it’s a time capsule for my early twenties. For a time in my life when I was shedding my teenage misconceptions and becoming a grownup. When I was saying goodbye to things that had hurt me and using words to mend the wounds.

RT

*Sugar Brown’s is actually the name of a coffee shop in my hometown where all of the cool hipsters would hang out and listen to each other try to sing.
*Did I mention Dr. Banz’s associate, Vogle, was a result of me watching too much Dexter?
*Coming up with a fake band name was one of the hardest things ever. Still not sure how I feel about it. BUT being that I’m planning on following in the footsteps of Quentin Tarantino by creating a single universe within which my future novels will be set (paranormal and not…we’ll see how that works) and one of those novels will involve Roman’s favorite band, I should probably get used to it. Or maybe just write in a scene where the band members fight over the name and vote on a new one. ORRRRR better yet, maybe I’ll just have the readers vote and see if the loyalists win out.
*Have I mentioned that the Kill Bill movies are my favorite and I’ve seen them about a hundred times?
*First kisses are the best kisses2125Q2
*So the corn tortilla sandwiches filled with meat and cabbage and pimiento cheese that Bryn used to eat at the drive-in movie theater are actually REAL and DELICIOUS and if you ever drive through Lubbock, TX, you must stop at the stars and stripes drive-in and get you a Chihuahua sandwich (yes, that’s really what they’re called) and have the culinary experience of your life. Better yet, get two.

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