Wren 6, community & 99designs – 2020 Writing Week 50

Mike GristWeekly Writing Update, Writing Leave a Comment

This week was busy but movement very stop-start – got a handful of words written on Wren 6, expanded the London Indie Authors meetup group, and had second thoughts about my brand new Wren 1 cover.

Wren 6 words

This time last week I had 2,000 words on Wren 6. Somehow, I have only bumped that up to 4,000 since. That includes the prolog, which may or may not be great, and chapter 2.

I got carried away with Internet tinkering instead – as per the next two items:

London Indie Authors FB group

2 weeks ago the co-organizer of the LIA Meetup group let me know he was going to step down, leaving me as sole organizer.

It set me off thinking what the group was for, what I wanted to get from it, etc… I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to continue running it. I’d started out aiming to share fellowship with other author-marketers, share and learn marketing skills, network, have fun, and so on.

It has delivered that. There are frustrations attached to the more succesful group members tending to drift off and stop attending over time – how to keep them hooked?

I decided to double down and make a bid to offer greater value and even more fellowship, by opening up a Facebook group. I’ve never run one before, but it’s pretty intuitive so far. I came up with a repeating system of daily posts where everyone can post their weekly progress, like word count, sales, recent strategies.

I sent an email to all 550 members of the Meetup group. So far 30 members have crossed over. This is probably a pretty fair representation of how many actual active members we had.

Posts have gone over well so far. I check it quite a lot, hoping to suck value out of the members, make it a valuable place to check into. The first lesson of community building came to mind as I was doing this, and of course it’s obvious – somebody has to be there.

Obvious. The community starter has to post and post and nurture more engagement or other people won’t bother. So I’ll keep doing daily posts and try to get it to grow organically. If it grows organically, I feel the most skilled/adept will post too, and that brings value, and that value will keep them coming as other people on their level also post.

Small fries can be heard. Big fish can be respected. Everybody gets something – in a way that doesn’t always carry over to real world meetings.

Also, it’s limited to London. So it may never be huge. But there are plenty of huge FB groups.

I will now apply this lesson to trying to make a fan group for my thrillers. Can I get that going? No idea. Are there enough fans keen enough to keep coming back and, ideally, actually originate comments and posts amongst themselves? We shall see.

Further, today I made another FB group for the local park where we do volnteering work. Busy!! Here’s a photo of the dead hedge we made out of chopped brambles:

99 Designs

I just got a new cover made for Wren book 1. Why do it again?

Why indeed. I started seeing my book in Amazon ad carousels alongside competitors. It doesn’t really look like any of them. I looked at the top 100 vigialnte justice. Again, it doesn’t look like any of them.

Worse, I only made one cover, but I have 5 books in the series now. I want them to be branded. So do I pay a ton more to have 4 more covers made in the same style as the one I just had made, which don’t look anything like others in the genre, and generally don’t look that exciting?

They’re black and white with colorful text. Swap that slightly, it’ll look dull.


So was it a mistake? Why did I ask for this cover?

I wanted something like Stieg Larsson and Barry Eisler. That’s what I got. But those books are not selling big on Amazon. They’re not in the charts. and it’s really just those 2. It’s not a major trope/motif. It’s not an automatic pick-up.

So I want something gorgeous that will be an automatic pickup. Not the Jack Reacher style, though, because my book is not that. My book is more like Mission Impossible. Heavy branding was done to make that series famous. A lone guy with a high-tech team stops wacky terror plots with incredible stunts.

That’s Wren. So that’s the cover I need. OK. Pay up!!! I will share when I have the cover settled.

Phew that is it – busy but not big steps forward kind of week.

Also lots at work. Kind of pushing for some community building in a new way there too. Interesting…


My ads have been super flat all week. Hardly delivering. Amazon ads I got my book high in the carousel for both Stieg Larsson and Barry Eisler, and still I wasn’t getting impressions or clicks or sales.

That pretty much fuelled the revelations above. Having that kind of cover was effective on those pages, but those books are not in the charts, not getting a lot of page views, and are therefore kind of pointless for me to hinge my marketing strategy on.

Good thing about very low ad serve means I know I’m in daily profit. Of course revenue is down, but profit margin way up. Kind of a reset before next cover, and also to ride out mass advertising spend that is Christmas.


I competely forgot to mention upcoming launch of Wren 5! It was scheduled for last Monday, but I waited to get more ARC feedback, and now it’ll launch next Tuesday. It has 100 pre-orders, so I wanted to deliver the best product right out of the box.

100 pre-orders is a record for me.

Next week

By next week I hope to have my new Wren cover, and be starting fast on covers for books 2-4 so they all sync up. Wren 5 will launch. The LIA group will be a week old – I want more members, and some big-timers posting.

As for wordcount on Wren 6, I’d love to get to 10,000.

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