First of all, I managed to write 123,115 words this month. That puts me up to 993,404 words for the year.
I did 38 blog posts this month: 22 Montana posts, 15 writing posts, and 1 ESL post.
On top of that I put out one book this month, Colter’s Hell. It’s sold 15 copies and I’m very thankful for that.
What else happened? Let’s get into it.
The Fever Hits
Yeah, I’m talking about a sick kid.
It started on Saturday afternoon. My mom came over from Helena to visit and maybe my son got too excited or had picked something up from school. Either way, he had a fever.
It continued on and we even went to the doctor on Monday. We were told this was going around and nothing could be done.
So I’ve been home with a sick kid for the past 3 days and it’s driving me crazy.
I love playing with my son and doing stuff, but come Monday, I’m ready to get back to work. There was none of that this week and my productivity has gone way down.
This can be frustrating, especially when you’re working on a book and have lots of ideas in your head. Thankfully I have the rent paid and don’t have much employer work to do at the moment.
Maybe he’ll be back in school tomorrow and then I’ll at least have one day before the weekend starts again.
Boy, parenting can be tough.
Weebly’s Difficulties Shut Me Down
As you probably know, I use Weebly as the editor for this website. That means they’re the company I use to put up all these cool images, text, and all the other bells and whistles you see.
This week they had some serious issues.
What this means is that I couldn’t put up a blog post.
It wasn’t that bad, as I’d decided not to post anything on the weekend this week, something I rarely do. Come Monday, however, I was ready to put up a post on writing.
Well, my text would not copy/paste from Word to the blog editor.
I went ahead and contacted them on Twitter, as I’ve found this is much faster than sending a request through support.
I got a message back an hour later that said they knew of the issue and were working to correct it.
I was upset, but not that angry. The reason? They’d gotten back to me.
When businesses get back to you and let you know that they know a problem exists, it helps.
It helps make you feel better, that something is being done. I sent a support request as well and that got replied to a day later.
By Tuesday night the problem had been solved.
In neither case – the occurrence of the problem or its solution – was I contacted by the company. I had to contact them.
This is a serious shortcoming of large companies, and in the digital age it no longer cuts it. Instances like this are how the competition pulls ahead. Weebly created a liability for itself, on that was only done away with because of my ability to contact them on Twitter.
That’s just one example of the power of social media.
Getting Back to the Site’s Roots
One thing I thought a lot about this month was getting back to my roots. Maybe it was the post I did on the history of the Strandberg family.
That doesn’t really have too much to do with it, however, as I’m talking about this website’s roots.
If you got back to March 2013 you’ll see that the two blogs – Montana and Writing – focused on two things: quality history and quality marketing and writing advice.
Maybe it’s time to get back to some of that.
I was very troubled when I went back one day to look at the writing, marketing, and sales advice I’d given over the past few months. I could not believe that there were only about half a dozen articles.
That needs to change. People come here to get good ideas, not a lot of rubbish on politics all the time. Well, they come for that too, but the analytics speak for themselves:
As you can see, posts that deal with SEO and marketing topics shoot right up the charts.
A good political article can cause a stir too, as we saw with Hillary and Engstrom this month, but I have a feeling both of those were linked to heavily – by What Really Happened for the former and UM employees on social media and through email on the latter.
I have no way to measure that, although with the Hillary post it’s pretty clear from the 226 links that I got from What Really Happened, 200 of which came over a 24-hour period.
The point is, I need to write more of this quality stuff that people want, and overwhelmingly it’s the business and internet marketing knowledge that I’ve been able to build up over nearly 3 years of doing this.
Posts like Analyzing Your Geo Analytics and Website Conversion Goals really get a lot of shares.
Expect to see a lot more of that business content this month.
Writing about Montana
Yep, I had a bit of a setback yesterday when the Missoulian newspaper cut off my access.
Why they did this is unclear, but they are justified – they’d been allowing me to read the paper for free.
Well, I think that’s kind of a sign, really. The best thing to do is focus on other projects for awhile.
I was thinking of scaling back on Montana news anyways. I’d already been doing so on Montana politics and all the rest of the “negativity” that’s so often associated with that.
It’s hard to be positive as there’s not much to be positive about. The nation continues to go into debt. Here in Montana we have a huge surplus yet our infrastructure crumbles and our jails overflow.
No one really cares about this, however, as we’ve shut ourselves off. Hell, we don’t even know our neighbors most of the time. The destruction of the nuclear family several decades ago helped with this.
I suppose I should channel my Montana energy into my 6th Montana history book, one that stretches from 1960 to 1990. I know many of you can’t wait until I turn my attention to our recent political personalities. Many are dreading it.
Perhaps it’s time…but I don’t think so. I usually hit those books up in the spring and summer.
That doesn’t mean I won’t be writing about Montana. I’m writing novels, as we’ve discussed, and I’m also updating Tribes and Trappers with about 100 pages.
I’ll talk more about both and leave some of the more contentious “issues” to the other sites.
Writing Fiction is Where it’s At
My novels do the best, and with the new KDP KU pages read rule, I get some good money. Well, it seems like that. Here, check out my spreadsheet:
For July I had 118 pages and in August I had 1,372.
That last might sound like quite a bit, and I suppose if you’re reading it then it is. I get paid $7.05 for those 1,372 pages, however.
Not too much, but as you can see this month, all my pages add up to more than $100.
Is it worth it? I won’t be putting Colter’s Run in the program, I can tell you that.
What I will think about is putting the first book in. That’s now acting as the new perma-free book for a series.
Non-fiction books don’t get this boost as much. Clearly I need to focus on fiction and also getting my current fiction read a bit more.
Yep, not rocket science. It is hard though, and getting my books noticed is not easy.
The western novels are getting noticed, and I do no advertising, just write ‘em and get ‘em published. Is it any wonder I keep on track with that? It’s where the money’s at.
I did a lot more with my email list this month, all to no avail.
Currently I have 97 subscribers to my email list. Sounds like a lot, but it isn’t.
When I send an email I only get about 20 opens at the most, and it’s been a lot fewer lately, more like 5.
On top of this I’m getting 0 clicks on my links. Alright, sometimes I get 1 or maybe 2.
All in all, my email list sucks. It isn’t working for me, and by working I mean having people open the email and click over.
You have to realize that the industry average on MailChimp (the program I use) for email opens and clicks is a rate of 2%. My list average is 5% and my last campaign came in at 4.1%.
We call that a conversion, when someone opens and clicks.
Conversion rates are low, incredibly so. Mine are actually a little better than the industry average. Well, they were, as you can see in this screenshot of my most successful campaigns:
So what can I do about this? I’m not wholly sure, but I feel offering a free gift for sign-ups is not helping me at all, not one bit.
I think I’ll do away with that and I might just go back to having my email list be about new book releases.
I’m just not that interested in sending a lot of emails, and I don’t feel bad about that. Most people don’t want them anyways.
I’ve been working a lot on the John Colter novels.
Well, that’s not quite true – I’m working a lot now, but for about a week or two I wasn’t doing much.
Sometimes it gets like that, where you can only do 500 words a day. Sometimes you have to go a few days without doing anything.
I did that quite a bit, and I think it was because the folder for Colter’s Hell was still in my current projects folder.
Yeah, I was waiting to get the print book done, and I finally did that. That included going through and catching any stray typos, and there were quite a few.
Now that I’ve finished with that I’ve started in on the next book, “Colter’s Run.” I’m more than halfway done and have the run sequence finished for the most part. Now I need to do a better job explaining what Colter was doing before that run.
There’s a lot about this guy that you don’t know, and we’ll get to all of that. He’ll get three more books, for a total of six. The whole series will look like this:
- Colter’s Winter
- Colter’s Hell
- Colter’s Run
- Colter’s Friend
- Colter’s Revenge
- Colter’s Escape
Back in 2011 I read all the Sharpe novels by Bernard Cornwell. Those are great books, ones that follow British rifleman Richard Sharpe as he rises through the ranks and eventually makes it to Waterloo.
I think about those books sometimes when I’m writing these Colter novels. I try my darndest to make them fun, thrilling, yet at the same time educational. Yeah, this is history when it’s fun, and people are going to have a lot of fun in the last few books.
I’m having fun writing them, and that’s why they’re going getting done so fast. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, please do – hundreds of others already have.
A Treasure at Cache Valley
The book takes place in July 1840, the closing days of the fur trade as we know it.
The rendezvous system was coming to an end, had come to an end in fact, for that’s what A.P. Chouteau told the assembled trappers that year at the Green River Rendezvous.
There were a lot of people there, and we’ll profile many of them. Quite a few will go on a treasure hunt with us, one that leads to cache Valley, the site of the 1821 and 1836 rendezvous’.
That’s where a hidden cache of treasure is buried, at least that’s what a Spaniard with no legs says.
To a group of aging mountain men and trappers, however, men with nothing to fall back on and no prospects in sight, it sounds like something to pursue.
Word gets out, however, and others get the same idea. They include an alcoholic British manager of the Hudson’s Bay Company, a Jesuit Priest, a free trapper and his squaw, the Spanish, and the American military.
All meet in Cache Valley, and it’ll be an encounter you won’t want to miss.
Coming in October…and Later
I’ve gone ahead and mapped out the final quarter of the year, and I’ve done that by making notes on my calendar.
Yeah, that’s the calendar I keep on the wall next to my work station. Here’s the rundown:
- For October I’ll be putting out a short book of sci-fi stories on the 2nd.
- I’ll be doing a $0.99 promo for Trouble in Jonguria on the 5th. That’s the first time that book has ever been discounted.
- October 14th is the day that The Hirelings is back to $0.99 for a promotion.
- October 15th has Tarot Card Killer on sale for $0.99.
- I plan to finish Colter’s Run on October 19th. Interestingly, that’s the same day the Missoula City Council is having its hearing on guns. Should be a fun day.
- On October 27 I’ll release Colter’s Run.
- October 28 is a big promo day on Book Basset, with 5 of my books discounted.
- Looking a bit further ahead to November, both Black Walnut and Wake Up, Detroit will be $0.99 that first week.
- Ale Quest will be $0.99 on November 9th.
- On November 17th I’ll release a new book with tons of self-publishing tips.
- I’m hoping to finish Colter’s Friend on November 23 and have it published on December 8.
- On December 15th I’ll release Paranormal Montana.
- On December 16th I’ll put out my SEO 2016 book.
- On January 12, 2016, I’ll release Colter’s Revenge.
That’s about as far ahead as I can go, mainly because the calendar runs out of pages.
Well, that’s all for this past month.
Besides the above you can look forward to some awesome posts about social media, how to write books, SEO, getting books to sell, and writing content that works.
Getting back to the roots, remember?
I’ll be doing that, come along for the ride.