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Life's Rollercoaster

Book Bub, International Style

I got my first BookBub Featured Deal. For those not in the know, it's a pretty big deal. BookBub happens to be a fantastic site for finding new ebooks at great prices. Be sure to check them out!

This one was a fair to middling deal since it was International only - the markets were Great Britain, Australia, and Canada primarily. For a sum of $167, BookBub sent out G581: The Departure to over 200,000 readers and let them know it was just 99 cents. I marked down the book for a full month, starting with the newsletter going out on January 31st and kept it there at 99 cents until March 2nd, when the prices will revert back to $4.99.

To date, I've sold around 441 copies of G581: The Departure. The investment has paid for itself, and I'm now seeing sales of G581: Mars and G581: Earth. I even have one pre-order for G581: Plague Tales which comes out on May 31st. Another cool side effect? I've seen increased sales on my War's End series as well. Considering sales on that front have been pretty quiet recently, I can directly attribute that to the BookBub deal bringing attention to my catalog of books. They are both post-apoc, so it makes sense.

I realized a couple of days AFTER the BookBub had gone out, that I hadn't properly prepared for it. I should have had the 4th and 5th book covers in the series done, up, and available for pre-order. Despite having just the placeholder for it, ONE person was willing to press the pre-order button on G581: Plague Tales. I likely could have had a LOT more, had I properly prepared. I went ahead and had my cover designer mock up the cover for my 5th book, G581: Zarmina's World, and I've made that available for pre-order. Here they all are. I love them!

Is it Flipping and Flopping if it is Another Thriller Instead?

Right around the time I realized I needed to drop The Glass Forest project and pick up Broken Code, I was also dealing with this weird trauma. I hied myself away to a solitary lunch at The Mixx near the Plaza and then walked over to the nearby library. The building is enormous. High ceilings, lots of light, plenty of places to sit.

I sat down in a comfortable chair and took out my journal. I knew by then that I couldn't keep going on The Glass Forest, and that likely I would be better off working on an already established series, but after visiting my father at the nursing home the day before, I was also a complete mess, stressing over my lifelong fear of nursing homes. Unlike my father did, or at least failed to plan for, I think constantly of the future. If you have ever taken the Clifton Strengths Assessment, it should come as no great surprise that Futuristic is my #3 top theme. What I do today affects tomorrow, and the weeks, months, and years that follow. I've pretty much spent a good part of my life trying to figure out how I DON'T end up in a nursing home like my dad has.

That means money. It means a plan. It means long-term care insurance (I'll get that soon, swear I will).

But here I was in this tall, light space. And I told myself to imagine the what if. What if I did end up in one? How could I make it into a positive? I thought of the retirement village, Hogewey, in The Netherlands. It provides a village-like setting for memory-care patients, with shared housing and staff that operate an ice cream parlor, grocery store, beauty parlor and more. Basically simulating a normal life, only one with limited or no cash basis. Safe within its boundaries, residents feel at home, not like they are in an institution.

I'm in love with the concept, truly I am. But I, like pretty much everyone, have my own demons and traumas and fears. And so, while I'm imagining this amazing future in a memory care unit (no, seriously, I was!), my mind went into the shadows as it does with frequency. You have read my books, haven't you?! This should come as no great surprise. And the question suddenly popped up, "What if there was this perfect retirement village, idyllic really, and something was terribly, TERRIBLY wrong with it? What would that look like?"

So that story would not let me go. I went home, outlined the bare bones, and began to write. I'm written over 17,000 words and would still be writing but then the following happened...

Another BookBub Causes Me to Switch Gears

Don't get me wrong, when I saw the email from BookBub saying "yes" to a WORLDWIDE BookBub Featured Deal on Hired Gun, I let out a shriek of excitement. This was significantly more money. $666 to be precise. But it also puts Hired Gun out to over TWO MILLION readers worldwide, that ten times the amount that I had just had G581: The Departure exposed to!

And while BookBub deals have been known to jumpstart an author's career, I was a wee bit concerned. After all, Hired Gun, the first of my romantic thriller series, is only one of two books out so far. Whereas, with G581: The Departure, I had two books out, and two more on the way. This meant that I could sell the first book for just 99 cents and still have a follow-through on the next books.

Sure, the Benton Security Services series will likely have fourteen or more books by the time I'm done, but that's not right now. Right now, I have two books... total. The best case scenario with a BookBub is that you give away, or sell for 99 cents (as is the case for my upcoming deal), a first in series and then make bank on the books that follow.

It took me less than a day to come to terms with the fact that I needed to switch gears and get Broken Code DONE. Now, there's no way I'm writing, editing, and publishing an 80k book in three weeks in time for Hired Gun's featured deal on 3/17. But I could get an ebook cover from my book designer, and slap up a pre-order for the book to come out in late July.

That all sounds pretty simple, right? At least, when I write it, the idea of it seems pretty straightforward. But then there was a few things that happened in between. Like...

  • I needed to check the front and end matter on Hired Gun and Smoke and Steel to make sure they were pointing to my website, the new book on pre-order, etc.

  • I realized my Short-Term Rental Success book was set up wrong as color (even though it is black and white) and therefore over-priced, so I needed to re-work it and had to use a different piece of software I'm not familiar with to do so.

  • A reader (he found me through the BookBub) from the UK reached out to me to talk about my paperback pricing in the UK. Apparently, whereas $15.99 is pretty middle of the road for a paperback in the U.S., in the UK, most paperbacks hold steady at $8.99 to $9.99. Which sent me down a rabbit hole of pricing changes for any potential sales in British pounds, Indian rupees, and Japanese yen.

  • Figuring out exact dates for Broken Code and G581: Zarmina's World for pre-orders and planning out how many words I needed to write, what due dates I needed to adhere to, and making sure I had enough time for edits and the finishing stages of book publishing (book cover orders for paperbacks, translating the books into AI narrated audiobooks, and so much more).

  • Beginning final edits (read out loud, run each short story through ProWritingAid) on G581: Plague Tales so it is ready for release (and an ARC with Hidden Gems) by the end of May.

If you think for a minute that writing is easy, may I refer you to the mere summary of a list above? Aieee!

Dreadful News Sends Us Spinning

In the middle of all this, as my brain is firing like a hummingbird on crack, zipping along, uploading changes, adjusting prices, planning the next book, reconciling accounts and more, I happen to see this...

As I read the recommendations, my heart sunk to my knees and stayed there. The group wants the 2,000+ short-term rental properties in Kansas City (that isn't counting the many others in surrounding towns) to be shut down and/or limited to a total number of 300 properties MAX. There was more, lots more, but it was all incredibly disheartening.

For newer readers, I'll catch you up to speed. In 2014, a year after moving here to Historic Northeast Kansas City, we bought a tiny, decrepit, abandoned house for $25. We then spent the next five years scrimping, saving, and doing whatever work we could on it ourselves (hiring out the big stuff to contractors) and spent $95,000 to renovate the house and turn it into a short-term rental. Cottage West was/is a dream realized. I put so much hard work into the house, taking her down to the bones, and creating something truly special. With over 440 reviews and a 4.93 star rating, folks love staying with us. More than that, though, our neighbors like us and have had zero complaints about our operating a short-term rental here. We aren't taking away from available housing either, Cottage West had sat empty and unloved for more than a decade before we bought the house. Now, it houses hundreds of visitors every year. Right now, a guest is staying for three days, scouting the real estate, and trying to decide whether she wants to move to Kansas City or not. Within an hour of checking in she sent me a message, "Hi, this is Teagan. I just wanted to let you know I checked in to Cottage West. It's ridiculously wonderful!"

Having Cottage West as a short-term rental has meant that, when Covid hit and my housecleaning business sunk like a stone, we had something to fall back on. And frankly, as I head towards my 53rd birthday, I need to be thinking of doing things that don't include scrubbing toilets and lugging heavy cleaning equipment around. You know, like writing. It has meant a huge difference as well for our family having me here at home and available when kids need to go to doctor's appointments or get sick and need to stay home. It has provided us with good money. Nothing wild and crazy, but enough to make ends meet and edge our way farther into financial security.

It is terrifying to think that this group's recommendations might be taken seriously by our city council. And my dreams, for Cottage West (and Cottage East in two more years) feel tenuous and at risk. To put this in perspective, we don't have savings to rely on. We have spent the past eight years cutting corners, sticking to budgets, and saving every single penny in order to create Cottage West and eventually Cottage East specifically for short-term rental guests. In the case of Cottage West, we also have a mortgage. It's small, but it reduces the net on any long-term rental rate we could get for a two bedroom one bath bungalow. Here in this area, we would be lucky to see a $1,000 monthly rent, which would be more than halved by mortgage, insurance, and annual taxes. I'm thankful I hadn't signed on the dotted line for any more money in loans to fix up Cottage East! When it is finished, it will be mortgage free.

Who knows what the city council will say or do. Closing 2,000 STRs down means the loss of potential revenue in taxes. And cities do love their tax base. Limiting it to 300 STRs max means eradicating any meaningful future revenue. So we shall see. Meanwhile, I'm realizing it is time to find a way to make my writing pay. Enough of treating it like a thing that costs me money and transform it into a money-maker.

In Summary

So all of this is to say that, changing gears in midstream from The Glass Forest to Broken Code to The Retirement Home and back to Broken Code is all part of the rollercoaster of life. I'm doing what I can to stay sane, slay my demons (or just really hurt those little crappers), and negotiate the obstacles. You know... life.

p.s. I finally figured out a name for my inner critic. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way refers to hers as Nigel. Me being me, I didn't want to offend or hurt anyone's feelings by giving my inner critic their name, so I knew it couldn't be a person. I came up with one that I think works quite well. Anti-Zen. Anti-Zen is a real pain in the patoot. And I try and ignore it as often as possible. Especially now that it has a name.

Find Me on Facebook Join my group General Malcontent's Grumbles and Scribbles on Facebook and get plenty of weird memes, the opportunity to read my newest releases for free, pics of the family, and other author news. I look forward to seeing you there!

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