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  • Christine Shuck

Get Organized Stay Organized Has a New Look!

I've been busy working my way through an Amazon Ads course led by Bryan Cohen. He runs Best Page Forward, which writes blurbs and ads for books, and he also knows plenty about advertising on Amazon. In November, while at the 20Booksto50k conference, I listened to his advice on "putting your books on an ads diet" to gauge their marketing viability and dove back into using ads.


I can't tell you how many times I've gone back and forth on ads, hoping for them to be the magic bullet to get my name out there, to fire up reader interest, et cetera. A big part of it, though, is understanding HOW the ads work, WHICH ads to run, and WHAT to say in those ads. All of which Cohen's ad diet, and the current five-day challenge, is addressing. After this, I'll likely return to Mark Dawson's Ads for Authors course and review that info as well.


It's a good thing to do when sick with a cold (or Covid) and not really mentally fit to write.


In any case, I won't get into the nitty gritty details but it became apparent that my organizing book was missing the mark somehow. The blurb had been professionally written by Best Page Forward. Same with the ads. So what was left?


The cover.


I had designed the original cover, and when I re-designed it back in 2018, I had a surge of sales, so I thought it was good enough. But times change, and so, it seems, must my cover.


Here are the before and after shots...


Before:

And After:

I'm not totally happy with it. But for now, I'm going to try it out and see if it does any better. I'll give it a couple of months and then consider getting a cover designer involved, like I have for my fiction books. It cost me a total of $2 plus around four hours of my time editing the little details.



Floors - Because, Why Not?!

When we bought our 1899 Victorian, they had installed wall to wall carpet upstairs. Downstairs, the beautiful hardwood flooring gave us a tantalizing clue as to what might be above underneath all of that carpet, and I desperately wanted to see it.


"What shape are the floors upstairs in?" I asked.


"Oh, they're fine. We just replaced the carpet that was already there." The rehabber assured us.


Yeah, that was a bald-faced lie.


But hey, that's okay, because we are haphazardly handy around here! After seven years of living with the cheap wall to wall carpet, we tore it out to see what was underneath. Pine flooring, some of which looked as if it had never, ever been refinished. The hallway and stairs maybe, but the rest of it, the five bedrooms, they all needed serious work to a) remove the dark varnish that acts like sticky tar when sanded, b) reinforcing/stabilizing to deal with loose boards and squeaks, and c) to fill a TON of gaps in the wood.


We decided this past three-day weekend were a perfect time to tackle two of the rooms, the double 12x12 rooms that served as the library (with floor to ceiling built-in bookshelves - the reason I had to have this house) and double as our master bedroom.


My husband began clearing it of furniture on Friday and by that evening we were cutting away the remnants of a previous incarnation of carpet from underneath the bookshelves. Yes, they installed the bookshelves OVER the wall to wall carpeting some 30-40 years ago. Kid you not. Saturday was spent pulling staples, clearing the last of the carpet we could get to (it's still UNDER the bookshelves), stopping most of the major squeaks and loose boards with special break off screws, and beginning the rough sanding of the floors.

Sunday was more sanding, as well as filling some of the bigger gaps of wood with a mix of sawdust and glue, then more sanding. We returned the drum sander and rented the floor edger, getting the edges down with a 24 grit (thanks to the sticky black varnish it was the only way we could do it), then a 60 grit and finally an 80 grit and 120 grit on Monday morning.

A little more wood glue filling, a little more sanding, and by Monday evening we were ready to stain. We had thought we were getting a stain close to what we had on the floors on the main level, but ended up with something far different. Remember I said we were "haphazardly handy"? I wasn't kidding. Things go sideways...often. That said, we somehow managed to pick out the perfect stain. If it could be any closer to the stain on the molding and trim, I don't know how. Witchery, I tell you! We plan on going over it again today and then applying the poly. It will take 72 hours to cure before we can finally put our furniture back inside of the room. Meanwhile, we've both spent the last three nights on couches. One is hard, unyielding, the other tries to eat you. And all of our dogs try repeatedly each night to sleep on these narrow places with us and then look at us with eyes of betrayal as we kick them off. It's a hard life.

Cover Re-Designs and More

Get Organized, Stay Organized isn't the only cover re-design on the menu. I have a couple more.


War's End, for example. As a series, it is now cohesive, and the blurbs have been professionally written, but I stuck my finger into the design too much instead of stepping back and reviewing what other post-apoc novels looked like and following that.


It's funny. I'm so anti-lemming that I often manage to basically help myself to a big sandwich of failure as a result. I want to be different, unique, and do my own thing. And when it comes to writing a book, that's fine. You want a different twist, not the same old, same old. But when it comes to getting my books in the hands of interested readers, I've mostly failed. And why do we write books? Yes, the story is there in my head, waiting to be told, but I'm a needy creature. I want others to read what I've written, and they can't do that if they don't have at least some clue as to what the book is about.


Which is where the lemmings come in. I used to have a bumper sticker that read, "Go with the flow, like lemmings off a cliff." But when it comes to selling my books, I am finally figuring out that, sometimes, it is better to be like everyone else.


So War's End series will get a new makeover, one more time, to make it similar to the other dystopian/post-apoc books out there. I'm reading one by Kyla Stone right now that is soooo good. I can't wait to show you what the series looks like!


I also had a bit of an epiphany. Again. Some lessons must be learned again and again until it takes.


In any case, the epiphany was, while looking at my book The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale. It went like this...


I wrote this book over twelve years ago, but there are still plenty of places in the United States where marijuana is completely illegal, where we are still locking people up in droves, ripping apart families, destroying lives, and more. All over the country, drug court officials get to be absolute shits to other human beings and get away with it because they hold unimaginable power over the drug court participants and wield a sword of fear day in and day out. "Do this, say this, or we will send you to prison."


And this book isn't selling.


Why?


Two reasons.


  1. I got bummed out over no sales and gave up.

  2. I've allowed Amazon to dictate their prudish morality and tell me that I can't run ads on the book because my cover shows a pot plant.

How do I fix this?


I recognize that this book has use to others and advertise it. And I change the design to one that is more acceptable both to potential readers and that also circumvents Amazon's puritanical b.s.


And with that in mind, I opened up Canva and started a new design.


Before...



And After...


Every step of the way, I learn more on my author journey. We will see how this new cover does as well as the Get Organized, Stay Organized. Fingers crossed, I've got it right this time!

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