Stopped all FB ads, ACX auditions, edits – Writing Update 2019 Week 51

Mike Grist Weekly Writing Update, Writing Leave a Comment

The last week (almost last week of 2019!) I’ve been working on 5 things:

  • Battling the intro and concept for Wren book 4
  • Reworking Last Mayor book 9
  • Editing a secret project (not mine – more some point later)
  • Listening to audiobook auditions for Saint Justice
  • Finishing up 5 years at my old job, On Campus London teaching English.

I’ve also done my taxes and taken stock of ad success in the last few months. Thanks to affiliate links attached to various Facebook ads, I’ve known for some time that those ads didn’t seem to be connected very much to sales.

Uh, what?

I’ve been spending 50 pounds a day or so on FB ads, and making a handful of sales, according to the tracking links. Like, 3 or 4 books. But that couldn’t be for real, could it? How else was I ranking so well? Why else were books selling? At the same time, I didn’t dare stop the ads in case I broke the spell.

Well, now I stopped the FB ads, and –

Nothing happened! Page reads didn’t stop. Sales didn’t drop off. So what the heck? Was I paying 50 pounds a day to Zuckerburg for no reason at all, for months? Ha, maybe. What’s that – about 3000? God, how ridiculous!

Well, let’s say I raised my profile 😉

So I stop FB ads and up my profit margin. At the same time, I put some of the daily 50 into Amazon ads. Up my budgets, start some new ads, and –

Sales increase. Page reads increase. Well. That’s pretty clear. Forget Facebook.

Editing Book 9

Like all the other books in this series, I am probably going to end up cutting the word count in half. From 90,000 down to maybe 50,000. What am I cutting?

  • All Lara’s stories. I did this for book 7 and 8 so had to follow through. Lara is back home in the USA, facing an enemy that Amo already defeated in book 6. Witzgenstein. None of it has any relevance to the major story arc. It feels lie retreading old ground – kind of like how Lara’s INTERLUDE story did in Book 1. I cut her out then. I cut her now, and suddenly we’re charging ahead at pace. Sorry, Lara…
  • Depth of technobabble. As ever, I offered multiple possible explanations for how the line worked. I overcomplicated it. Now it is getting very simple.
  • Dreams. Lara’s sections had a lot of dreams, but so did Anna and Amo. Amo’s opening three chapters were primarily dreams. He talked to Cerulean, Drake, his dead parents, etc… Why? I think probably just to pad out my opening. I cut it all, make his opening rush up to the mid-point, and end his section on a big kicker. Much better.
  • Rachel Heron’s doubts. I’m trimming this way back, keep her uncertain as to what she’s going to do until we get there. Keep it a surprise, make it faster.

Writing Wren Book 4

It’s always tricky getting started on a new book. I wrote a few opening chapters a few months back, reflected on them, rewrote them, and now I’m back to the original. It doesn’t exactly make sense. I will have to make it make sense.

And how will Wren get out of jail? A CIA black site. Not easily done. Part of the joy of writing is to solve these problems.

Finishing old job

When I arrived back in the UK 5 years ago, I found a job after three months as a teacher at an EAP Foundation school, based in Birkbeck College in central London. I did that for 5 years!

Now I have a new role starting in Jan, providing Academic Support direct to a university – the University of East London. I’m excited. It’s a great step up, one I’d hoped to hit 5 years ago, but I am just glad to hit it now.

Audiobook auditions

I put Saint Justice up for audiobook auditions on ACX, the Amazon/Audible narraotr/author site, and have so far received about 30. I offered $100-200 pfh, or per finished hour. In total that’s between $1000-2000, given the book is about 10 hours long.

Listening and trying to choose is exhausting! It’s hard to know what criteria to use. I listen to narrators for other thriller books. I check all the reviews of the narrator auditions I have. I look if they’re ACX-approved and at their pfh rate. I check out their blogs.

One easy trimming criteria is the age of the voice. Old guys have particularly deep voices. My guy is young, 36, so a 70-year-old voice, while often incredibly authoritative, just doesn’t sound right. Another easy trim is voices that are a little nasal. Maybe this is one kind of American accent. I want gravelly.

I have it honed down to one guy. Like quite a few of these narrators, he seems to be starting out. He’s done mostly romance to date. He gets great reviews from romance readers saying he’s sexy. That’s gotta be good, right? He reads Wren well.

I’ll wait one more week, get the next month’s Amazon payment in, pay my taxes for the year, then commission him. Hopefully we’ll whizz out books 1-3 in the next 3 months, by which time book 4 will be ready.

At the same time, I’m looking into getting my Last Mayor books remade. I was very happy with the first guy’s work, but I’ve trimmed the book so much since then that it doesn’t make sense to keep using that version. Get all 9 made in one go. That’ll be thousands. Ouch. Can I eat the cost? Maybe. Probably we’ll see if the Wren books make any money in audio first. That’d be a help.

Secret editing project

It’s a secret! It’s fun, though, and intensive.

Well – one more of these and we’ll close out the year! I’ll do a proper review of my writing progress in 2019, and spend some time making goals for 2020. In some ways, I could almost be on replacement money already. As in, if I wasn’t worried about earnings tanking, I could quit my job and live off writing now.

Full time writer!! Guess what 2020s goal is?

Merry Christmas!!

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