This week I’ve been drafting hard behind my fantastic narrator, Nick Cracknell. He finished up reading Saint Justice yesterday, and I put together a helluva edits document, with lots of re-reads, snippets to be cut out, and so forth.
He finished it today. Now all that remains is for me to double-check, approve, pay, make the audiobook cover, and BOOM goes the dynamite, my first Wren thriller will be up!
Wow. A month, all in. Feb will be for book 2, maybe also book 3. So exciting.
And so many edits! I’m really glad Nick is game to do them. There’s nothing like hearing a narrator read your work to spot where the slow parts are. I highlight them, give him a timestamp, and he snips them out. Easy!
Other Wren thoughts
In the last couple days I wrote another 3000 words on Wren book 4. I re-read and edited those sections, and man, they are good. Left me feeling jacked. Propulsive, high-octane, like nothing I’ve read or seen before, but grounded in reality (I think). Excited to get this fourth book out the door.
Only problem is, Saint Justice is barely selling! Is this down to AMS ad failures? I’m spending some $10 a day of a $30 budget, getting clicks but very few conversions. Why is this? I don’t know. It’s true there’s enormous competition. The star rating of 4.1 is competitive. Is the sales page not convincing?
This week I took a couple steps to try and tackle this:
Saint Justice cover
I had a couple things I wanted to change about the original cover for Saint Justice:
- The clouds were very jaggy and repetitive, especially on the right, since I’d just copy-pasted them.
- The title was perhaps odd – my name so huge was the only thing you could read at smaller sizes. But who am I?
- Wren himself is small. The contrast is off, so he doesn’t stand out too much.
I set out to fix these issues. Here are a few iterations:
I started with the text. I made the title big and my name small, but it ended up looking odd, and it wasn’t consistent across books, and it wasn’t how I’d designed the images in the first place.
So I shifted back! This was after a day of tweaking and fiddling. Often it takes tweaking and fiddling, like with the text of a book, to figure out what direction is best. I took out the tagline, trimmed the blurb from Oli Harris, and reduced the series tag substantially.
Maybe you can’t see much difference. This level of tweaking took all day!
Already the cover is cleaner. I also fixed the sky with a sky image I already bought, made the title wider, and then zoomed the whole thing in. Now the landscape is bigger and Wren is bigger too. Finally I added contrast around Wren – made the oval around him brighter so his silhouette pops more.
I like this cover better. The changes are subtle. Will they make any difference to sales conversion? I kind of doubt it, but maybe…
Saint Justice blurb
In recent edits I took out all mention of cults, white supremacists and such. I thought I was making it more palatable, but in truth there was little left. So I looked at some competitors and did some copying. Here is the new blurb, as amped up as I can make it:
SOLE SURVIVOR OF AN ALL-AMERICAN DEATH CULTTHE GREATEST PSY-OPS AGENT IN AMERICAN HISTORYNOW AMERICA’S HUNTING HIM
SAINT JUSTICE is the first standalone vigilante thriller in the bestselling Christopher Wren series:
On the run from Uncle Sam, cult leader and ex-DHS agent Christopher Wren walks into a biker bar in northern Utah, looking only to get beaten up. What he uncovers instead is repugnant – a vast human trafficking operation run with ruthless corporate precision, funnelling thousands of homeless people from the streets to…
Nobody knows. Nobody cares.
But the Department of Homeland Security won’t listen to Wren’s warnings. Outlawed for running his own secret ‘cult’ on the side, a group built to rehabilitate criminals the system couldn’t handle, DHS’ cross hairs fall squarely on him.
Now mass civil war is brewing in the wilds of America. One spark in the tinderkeg could ignite the inferno, and Wren finds himself alone in the dark, hunted by both DHS and the brutal traffickers, watching the spark fall.
It takes a cult leader to kill a cult.
If you like action heroes with the grit of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, the intelligence of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon and the sheer audacity of Barry Eisler’s John Rain, then you’ll love Christopher Wren.
Pick up SAINT JUSTICE and start your Christopher Wren adventure today!
What readers are saying about the Christopher Wren series:
***** “Brilliant. A brutal and disturbing foray into the underbelly of humanity with a truly flawed protagonist.”
***** “Brutal and bloody, and a bloody good read!!”
***** “Adrenaline junkies take note. Mike Grist has what you need!”
***** “Frighteningly realistic. A fantastically scary read!.”
***** “Kept me captivated from beginning until end. Grist is an amazing story teller. Not for the faint of heart…”
***** “Floored! What in the hell did I just read? Five stars!”
Each book in the explosive Christopher Wren series is a standalone thriller. Begin with whichever book you want. But be warned: once you start, you won’t be able to stop.
Book 1: SAINT JUSTICE
Book 2: MONSTERS
Book 3: REPARATION
Book 4: RELEASE CHRISTOPHER WREN (coming soon)
It’s longer, fuller, and hopefully more exciting. Many rivals talk about how their guy is the best assassin in the world or some such – so I made a similar boast – the best psy-ops agent in history. Now we lead with America hunting him. After that I’ve basically combined my oldest blurb with bits of the newer one.
I also added select reviews – I think these really help. They’re all genuine. Will this make a difference? No way to now.
Further AMS ad experiments
This week my experiment was to set all bids at 50c. The zombie ads partially served and the Wren ads didn’t serve at all. Therefore – I need to boost.
OR – what I’ve actually done is twofold.
- Reduce Saint Justice back to 99c. I saw some other newish thriller authors do this for their first book. OK.
- Started up some FB ads. All new copy, but the same images. Basic copy, though, same old targeting. Here’s the ad:
I think it all helps. FB ads have been delivering at knockdown prices of 12c / click. It compares great to AMS ads, where the going rate is at least 75c