Starting Over

5 Nov

 

Back in 2013, when I released my first novel, titled Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest, I knew so little about book publishing and marketing that I didn’t even know how much I didn’t know. But I knew that I loved that title. It was unique, mysterious and always a point of conversation, whether it was at its launch party, or  book blogger interviews, or during casual conversations about my writing journey. And the subtitle surely explained what the book was about … didn’t it? (It’s an historical adventure/thriller set in the Golden Age of Piracy)

The book did really well at first. This was back in the day when the competition wasn’t so severe for indie authors. Quintspinner won over a dozen book awards and I had 49,000 downloads when I put it up for free with KDP Select. I quickly amassed 75 great reviews. So … I let it be and went to work on Deadly Misfortune, the second book in the same series.

I knew nothing about the importance of subtitles and their ability to improve a book’s chances of being found by readers in online searches. SEO was just a confusing acronym to me so I didn’t give Deadly a subtitle but it had a great cover – a floundering tall ship fighting to stay afloat in a massive rogue wave and a fierce facial image of a scary pirate-like guy across the top. THAT would let know readers what the genre of the book was, right? Right??

Then real life and several major traumatic situations got in the way of my writing and sucked the life out of me. For three years.

During that time I read a lot (A LOT, I tell you!) about the new atmosphere surrounding book publishing and marketing techniques. SEO – the enigmatic Search Engine Optimization. Book titles. Subtitles. Book descriptions. Book covers. Key words and key phrases. Split testing. Email subscriber lists. Newsletters. Lead magnets. Landing pages. Series branding. And on it went.

By then I had a major case of AFLE, a term which I freely admit I have stolen from Lynne Cantwell, an author who is a very knowledgeable and frequent contributor to the top-of-my-list-of most-helpful sites-an-author-could-ever hope-for, Indies Unlimited. Translated loosely, the letters, as Lynne explains it, stand for “another freaking learning experience”. I began to forget stuff as quickly as I read about it. My brain was overloaded. Still, in desperation, I read on. And on. And on.

Fast forward to 2017. A comment from the host of another course that I was taking broke my reading momentum with this comment: “Stop reading and start doing.”

I waffled for a month or so – old procrastination habits (excuses) are hard to get rid of. Then a financial downturn in my day job gave me a kick in the arse (nothing like financial panic to rev oneself up) and I thought that since the Universe had gifted me with extra time on my hands, I wanted to write again.

I decided that I would document my return to writing and my progress of said journey, on my blog. Perhaps some little tidbit would be useful to another author – a kind of paying it forward as a thanks to all of those learned authors whose informative blogs had kept me up to date with what I would need to do to get back in the author game. So here we go – for the next little bit, I will be sharing my actual experiences and choices.

 

As a starting point, I determined that I needed a new set of covers that would brand the series, as well as attract readers with their visuals. By now my first cover designer no longer did covers anyway, so I began to search for a replacement. I also decided that I was going to (gasp!) change the titles.

AND change the subtitle(s).

AND add subtitles where there were previously none.

I was met with severe resistance to this idea when I asked a handful of devout followers of my books to give me their opinions on my new title choices. They, too, LOVED “Quintspinner”. Why on earth, they asked, would I even consider changing it? So as not to infect them with severe cases of AFLE, I asked them to trust me and just carry on with their liked-most and liked-least title and subtitle choices.

Here was the first round of choices I gave them:

 

BOOK ONE (formerly Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest)

New title: Pirates of Blood Bay Island: A Novel

New subtitle choices: 1. Book One in the Quintspinner Saga

                                        2. Book One in the Quintspinner’s Tale

                                       3, The Quintspinner’s Tale of The Devil’s Deal ( or A Deal with the Devil)

 

BOOK TWO (formerly Deadly Misfortune)

New title: Pirates of Deadly Misfortune: A Novel

New subtitle choices: 1. Book Two in the Quintspinner Saga

                                       2. Book Two in the Quintspinner’s Tale

                                      3. The Quintspinner’s Tale of Vengeance

 

BOOK THREE (unfinished manuscript with tentative title of Tides of Eternity)

Optional titles: 1. Pirates of Peril and the Gift of Time

                            2. Pirates of Peril and the Sands of Shadows

New subtitle choices: 1. Book three in the Quintspinner Saga

                                       2. The Quintspinner’s Tale of the Far Side of Forever

                                      3. The Quintspinner’s Tale of (the)Tides of Eternity

                                      4. The Quintspinner’s Tale of The Tides of Terror

 

If you’ve stayed with me this far, that’s great. Feel free to give me YOUR thoughts on these choices. You might be surprised by the feedback I got on this first round. I sure was. Stay tuned to next week’s post for the results.

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