This was a tough decision to make.
I’ve pulled both Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood and Warpaint from circulation.
They will be back…
But not until I know I’m going to put them in front of the readers who will love them.
I’m going to have to get (or make) new covers for both books, completely redo keywords and blurbs, change my books’ categorization, and give them a chance to cool (though sales have been small enough that THAT part shouldn’t take long… I had them so badly categorized that they haven’t been “hot”).
Based on what I’m learning today, I’m going to have to split-test covers and blurbs to jut the folks who like to read the kind of stories these are.
I’m finding the face of my audience today — my real readers — and my big, happy news is that I’m not going to have to change what I write. There’s already a market I’ve been writing in that has a lot of readers who would love what I do. Which is thrilling.
But I’m definitely going to have to change the way I present it to readers, so that the folks who would love it can find it (which hasn’t been happening), and the ones who wouldn’t will never see it.
While I’m happy to hear that these books haven’t been a victim of 1984-style Ingsoc revisionism, it has made it pretty difficult for me to figure out why everywhere I’ve looked for them has been at best a dead link. Even your own website doesn’t have a note that these books are temporarily unavailable when I look for them.
Hi, Will. I’m doing new covers. It’s taking longer than I expected.
Azalea Ellis said earlier, “Your current covers are not hideous, but they do not signal anything interesting or particularly high quality lies within.” Agreed, although… with love and respect, for me, some of your covers do slide over into the actively repulsive zone. They are deal breakers. Perhaps I am too picky, but there are many MANY options out there, and the first filter is bad cover quality. (The second is bad titles. Instant rejects? Anything ending with the word “Rising”; anything with a chess motif; anything with an exclamation mark.)
Your decision to pull your novels until you have reconsidered your covers — plus keywords, blurbs, and categories — is not only bold but the right thing to do. You will be rewarded a skillion-fold (roughly).
One of my favorite Sci-fi authors was Jack Vance, and his old covers were terrible. If it weren’t for word of mouth you-gotta-read-this, I’d have passed him by. And missed out, but hey — that’s the point: your covers need to pull in the readers or your words can’t do their job. Good luck!
PS. As for the image on this page, I saw a version of the race car from the animated “Speed Racer”, the Mach-5. It took a second look to realize it was a spaceship of some kind. That qualifies as a Fail.
Ahh, I was going to say something about the marketing aspect of it. I’d done a search “Google” and everything currently connected to your name is all the writing classes and the rest was from “then.” My sons started reading your books when they were teens in the ’90’s. By extension, so did I and my mother.
Since you’ve discovered this, well…I can happily finish my own research. One of the reasons I’ve not really done a great deal of my own marketing is that I was selling crafts and I do know that one has to have a quality product. And because my state has a guide for new businesses, I kind of knew what I needed to do, though not the specifics of the publishing world. I’ve now gotten totally immersed in this world, as well as the one I created which I’ve polished thanks to your classes.
Oh, I also read in Jane Friedman’s blog, she gets most of her income from how you do it-classes and advice. she says only about 20%(?) of her income is from her book. I thought, “aha, that’s how Holly’s doing it.”
I’m going to keep the draft of the post I was planning on doing in the forum and see if your categories match what I thought your books were.
Having a cover that is both professional (I mean, really, actually professional) and signals what readers will be getting when they open your book is the most important thing in marketing a book. If you get it right, it can help whatever other marketing efforts you do boost your books much higher.
I originally took your HTRYN class in 2013…through 2015, which is when I published my first book. It took me over 500 hours to get through. I have 3 novels and a novella out now, which is still really not enough, but since I only have to support myself, which I CAN DO, I am now a full-time author.
I really love your classes. You understand how to explain both the science and art of writing better than anyone else I’ve come across, I recommend your courses to new writers, etc… But.
I don’t think your fiction has been packaged and marketed well. I think if it was, you would be able to write your 3 hours a day with no problem, and the nonfiction could be what you have fun doing on the side for extra cash, instead of the other way around.
It’s hard to split your focus between just learning and then doing marketing that is profitable and effective, and writing well, so adding on your huge websites and the nonfiction classes makes it even more difficult, I imagine, which is part of why the fiction marketing hasn’t been your main focus (especially when you have to pay the bills and keep paying them.)
I read a post from you not too long ago that mentioned you were looking into this marketing stuff with some help from your students, KDP rocket, etc. I would recommend a couple other resources for someone in your position.
Chris Fox’ “Relaunch Your Novel” (Part of his Write Faster, Write Smarter series) It’s got some pretty good info, is a quick read, and applies to your current position.
Chris Fox also has a quick video course coming out in a month or two to help teach PPC (Pay Per Click) Advertising, which is the most powerful way to get consistent sales, even of backlist booiks. The course isn’t out yet so I can’t say if it’s worth it, but based on his other stuff I’d say it’s a sure thing.
Here’s a link to that: https://chrisfoxwrites.lpages.co/ads-for-authors-who-hate-math/
I’d also recommend Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors course, but it is not open for new enrollment all year around, and won’t be again for another few months. It is also much more expensive. For someone who doesn’t have months to spend hours every day testing and learning all this on their own, definitely worth it.
And the biggest thing: A professional cover artist and typographer. Your current covers are not hideous, but they do not signal anything interesting or particularly high quality lies within.
I know you don’t have the rights to all your fiction, but except for the moon & sun series and, perhaps, Hawkspar, I would say every single one of your fiction covers needs a revamp. I know this is expensive, but I think marketing books without it is going to be like Sisyphus and the boulder. Cadence Drake needs something like this if she’s going to bring in the big bucks for you.
Bookfly Desgin are my favorite. Their typography, which can really make the difference between mediocre, good, great, and fantastic, is top-notch.
Damnonza is also good. They’re touted as the best, but I don’t think that’s true any longer.
There are several other places that aren’t as good, but where you can get cheaper covers that still signal quality and genre pretty well.
I didn’t mean to write this much, but once I got started I couldn’t stop, because I like you and your work so much and I really want you to succeed with what you most enjoy doing.
Feel free to look me up to see how I’m selling and what my advice is worth. It’s been 6 months since my last book was out, so my rankings don’t make me look like a superstar, and even though I make a living at this I don’t support a family, only myself (frugally, at that), but if I’m doing it on 3.5 books, I think with your backlist, you could be, too.
My Website: https://www.azaleaellis.com
And the authors whose book/courses I recommended are making money hand over fist, verifiably.
Anyway, hope I didn’t overstep my bounds with this unsolicited advice. I’m sure you have lots of council, but if you would like to talk about this stuff via email I’d be happy to try to share what knowledge might be useful to you.
In any case, good luck with all this. I know it can be an overwhelming job sometimes, and you handle things with grace and enthusiasm.
This is a WONDERFUL post. I already have the Chris Fox relaunch book, and am going through that on Marketing Tuesday along with the other steps I’m taking.
And thank you for the cover recommendations.
And I appreciate the WHOLE post. I think other writers reading it will, too. Thank you so much for liking my work enough to write it. 😀
The ship looks like it could be a cousin of Zed’s ship in Battle Beyond the Stars … very, very cool. Your enthusiasm is infectious!
I think this is absolutely the right write thing to do. It might even be a rite thing to do! 😉 You write so many amazing books in so many amazing genres blends. Kick-ass covers will help you find those readers. I think people who read Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle (and they are voracious) would love many of your blended genre books, especially the Cadence Drakes!
Thank you. Both of those names were among the writers recommended to me in my recent Reader Survey, and I’m planning on getting some of their work and figuring out how we’re similar.
I still have a PB of Corrigan’s Blood from the late eighties early nineties. Loved it and did not know or realize you had more set in that universe. I have since bought “Longview Chronicles” which I had a hard time getting through, but it was worth it. Very much so.
I’m very glad The Longview Chronicles was worth it. Thank you for giving it a chance. 😀
And I’ll gave HTCB (probably with a new title), and Warpaint (probably with a new title), back up as soon as I can get them in front of the right readers. Apparently, I DO NOT WRITE SPACE OPERA…
I like this red ship in today’s image — it kinda looks bioengineered, which I think fits better with the milieu than does a straight-up futuretech ship.
It does have an organic-y look to it, doesn’t it? 😀
It’s stock art, and I couldn’t find anything else by that artist that I liked. But I’ll get this figured out.