Wren 1-5 in print – Writing Wk15/16 2021

Mike GristWeekly Writing Update, Writing 2 Comments

The last 2 weeks have seen my ads settling into a 50% return zone, with click costs rising. I wrote a handful of new words on book 6 and mostly focused on getting books 1-5 updated and into print.

Wren 1-5 in print

I don’t usually bother with print. For my zombie books I made book 1 in print then never bothered with books 2-9. It’s a big hassle and I rarely sell any print copies, so it didn’t seem necessary. Recently with the thrillers though, people kept asking me about paperbacks.

Part of this is a corollary of my advertising. I’m hitting wider, non-ebook-only audiences, and they want print copies. I had a couple of dialogues where I was promising folks to get the print copies out within a week. I’ve said this kind of thing before then let the bother of formatting delay me unto oblivion.

This time though, perhaps because making the paperbacks went hand-in-hand with streamlining the whole series in the new, consistent style, I felt like it was an important thing to do.

So I’ve done it 😉

It is cool to have them ready like this. In order to get this far, I had to work on books 4 and 5 (about to go into print).

Book 4 needed:

  • Remove all Gruber side stories. The first one was easy, the latter ones a little tough because his viewpoint overlaps with Wren. Some essential information came through Gruber, some came through Wren’s, so I had to rewrite a couple chapters to make it work. We also lose some of the in-depth indoctrination stuff, but I’m thinking few people care about that anyway.

Book 5 needed:

  • Remove all Rachel Day side stories. This was pretty easy, few of them did anything more than provide interesting cult-indoctrination. I’m sad to lose this, as ever, but the main stuff comes through the Wren viewpoint already anyway. There’s a good amount of repetition.
  • Remove all David Keller side stories. This required a bit more thought. The first one opens the story with the broader threat of the Apex, after which there isn’t much in the Wren story to get things going ’til maybe chapter 10. So I switched it around, put Wren at Keller’s rally, and highlighted their conversation that was only offered as a flashback before. There’s a similar challenge at the end, where the denouement matters overlap between Wren and Keller’s POV. I had to weave it together from Wren’s POV. It’s actually much simpler now, no repetition, so I’m feeling good.

Now all the books are sleek, single-POV action adventures that move ahead fast. They rarely pause to go deep on back or sidestory. A little here or there.

Click costs rising

At the same time, click costs continue to rise and my reviews on amazon are dropping. This concerns me but it’s out of my control. Now the first three books in the series have a 4-star rating, rather than 4.5. It doesn’t look great. Few of these people who are marking me down are telling me why. It’s too soon after my last round of beta readers to dig in and make editorial changes. I need to hear from a mass of readers what it is they’re disliking. Maybe that’ll come with some more time.

I’m also throttling some ads via bid cap controls. This’ll likely squash my sales, reduce my spend, and I’ll probably spend the next few days panicking and undoing the damage. lol. The reality is, expansion is hard! Maybe I need some whole new batches of ad images. I’m struggling to find new audiences that convert well.

The work goes on!

Book 5 is coming in print!

Book 6

I’m at 31,000 words on book 6. Chapter 20. That’s not very much, and the deadline is approaching, so I really need to buckle down and get this done. I used to write a book every 3 months. Now it’s more like every 6. Let’s flip that back. 40,000 words by Friday this week would be a good start!

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