NaNoWriMo Talk 2020

Excellent! This is encouraging.

So yeah, going to buy a new computer, transfer everything over to that, and then start doing backups.

Back to writing stuff: I massively increased my advertising budget for my most recent book. So far, no nibbles (it went from $150/month to over $600/month). I just don’t understand Amazon advertising. I want to give them money, but they don’t want to take it from me!

Stupid business-side-of-writing. I just want to write. Why is that so bloody hard?

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How do you advertise your books if I may ask?

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If you publish something on Amazon via KDP you can set a monthly budget for Amazon to include it in their onsite advertising for “promoted products” but it will only be displayed if it “fits” with a customer search in some way. You pay if the customer actually clicks on the advertisement and more if he actually buys the book. If for some reason your advertisement is never displayed or nobody clicks on it, it costs nothing.

I’ve done the same. I have yet to generate a single buy due to amazon advertising (but I only have a single book on there unlike @Marx who has several). If you publish to KDP exclusively you can also do other types of promotions (like having a sale or being included in the kdp library etc) and they demand exclusivity because they are the largest platform for ebooks by a wide margin. So… yeah. But I decided against that and put up mine on Smashwords as well. But I know of authors that are on the more successful side of things who are having to make difficult decisions what to do about that because the promotions you can do via exclusive KDP are worth so much more.

In self-publishing you have to actually do all the work of promoting a book by yourself which is a large part of what a publisher does for you both in the book or in the game business.


@yashima has given a very good summary. I have 3 campaigns running currently (one for each of my “independent” stories, none for the “Tintian” series), and they all trigger off slightly different keywords.

To give an idea, combined I have spent $193 (total, between the 2 campaigns), and I have sold about 8 books as a result of that (for a whopping $16 in sales). On the one hand, that’s brutal, but on the other hand, it’s also awful.

But on the gripping hand, it is important to keep my work visible, and theoretically if enough people see the stuff I advertise for, they may pick up stuff I didn’t advertise for. That’s the plan… to have a deep and broad enough catalog that once somebody is directed towards one book, they end up picking up another (or two!).

But advertising is a helluva thing. It’s very picky, and it racks up very quickly (if anyone clicks on one of my ads for my latest book, Queen of the A.I.s, it costs me $1.90. I get $1.97 total for every book I sell, so that means if I have a perfect 1-to-1 sale-per-ad-click, I make $0.07 per book… but historically it’s about 120-to-1, which is actually pretty good, but means that advertising is an immediate loss for an eventual, theoretical, hopeful gain).

Have I mentioned I hate doing self-promotion? I just want to write. But in order to write, I have to eat, and eating means getting people to buy my stuff.


Thanks to you both @yashima and @Marx!

I have never heard of these things and find them very fascinating. When I first read Yashima’s description it sounded very fair and great but your view, Marx, put that in a very different light. I find it pretty expensive now, but I understand what you mean about keeping your work visible. That’s important indeed.

What does KDP stand for?

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“Kindle Direct Publishing”. It’s the biggest (and in many ways, the only) way to self-publish your work to a broad audience. It’s relatively intuitive and easy (there are a few fiddly bits, and the built-in cover designer is a bit faff, but overall quite simple). Lets you set your own price (theoretically: the market is pretty brutal in this respect, so the price is a hard $2.99 or $0.99, almost regardless of all other considerations, and you earn 70% at $2.99 and 30% at $0.99 per sale), and even modify the price in each of the Amazon stores, as well as enlisting it in a bunch of Amazon-related sub-products (“KU” is “Kindle Unlimited”, and it lets readers find and read your work for free, and you’re paid a ‘variable’ per-page amount that, for the last decade, has always been half-a-cent per page… so your average 200 page novel, when read through KU, is worth about $1 in payment to you).

This is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it makes it much easier to publish your own work. And comparing it to Kobo or any of the smaller self-pub tools is night-and-day on how painless the process is.

On the downside, it makes it very easy, and as a result there is a lot of crap that gets published (unedited, or barely, semi-coherent ramblings). There are thousands of books published every week (if not day!), and it is very, very hard to keep your head above the tide. And everything you do that might diversify your work across other platforms makes it much, much harder for you to be noticed on Amazon (which is over 95% of the market share, last I checked).

Regardless, KDP is still a great tool, and it lets me get my work out until such a time as I manage to find a traditional publisher willing to pick up my work.


Ooops, it wasn’t my intention to make it sound fair and great. Amazon has an almost monopoly on ebooks as it stands and I think that’s neither “fair” (business rarely is) or great. There is no real competition for now. Maybe if they f… up the next generation of e-reader (the current one isn’t so great) something will change.

Absolutely… despite all the glorious things self-publishing has made possible this is still the goal for just about every author. There are probably a handful of examples in each country who do better self-publishing than with a publisher. If you’re lucky your self-published success lands you a publisher or at least an agent…

I think that right at the start when not everyone and their mother and child were pushing stuff through KDP it might have been easier and it probably is in some foreign language markets still…


You pay if the customer actually clicks on the advertisement and more if he actually buys the book. If for some reason your advertisement is never displayed or nobody clicks on it, it costs nothing.

I found that sounded fair. But you didn’t mention the prices :smiley:

It’s very picky, and it racks up very quickly (if anyone clicks on one of my ads for my latest book, Queen of the A.I.s , it costs me $1.90. I get $1.97 total for every book I sell, so that means if I have a perfect 1-to-1 sale-per-ad-click, I make $0.07 per book

Because that sounds terrible.


It gets worse. You can set your per-click ad price (so I set it at $1.90 per click), but then it asks if you want “dynamic bidding”… so, basically, every time there is an ad opportunity, Amazon will look at all the potential ads that will fill that slot, and then start adjusting upwards. “We have a $1.90 ad opening. Oh, there are 76,789 ads that will pay that much. Okay, what about $1.91? 65,231. What about $1.92? 57,891…”) and so on, and so forth, so your ads can actually cost significantly more than you put them at. You are allowed to set a daily limit total, so theoretically your spending should spiral out of your control (too much), but you will certainly get less mileage out of your ad dollars than you expect.

Of course, you can turn off ‘dynamic ads’, but then your ad only appears when there is nobody capable/willing to bid higher. So if I have a fixed $1.90 ad, and somebody has a dynamic ad at $1.50 that allows them enough leeway in their dynamic adjustment, it will show the $1.50 ad (and charge them $1.91). And so on, and so forth.

PLUS, and this is pretty critical, your ads aren’t just in competition with other self-pubs. The big boys, the Big Four, also run ads in the exact same way, and their budgets are functionally infinite. So you’re fishing in their pond, fighting over the scraps that fall over the sides.

And, I feel obliged to point out: my $1.90-per-click ads have still had zero impact. No clicks. I’m going to give it another week, and then I’ll have to increase the daily budget and per-click amount, because otherwise nothing will change.


there is a lot of crap that gets published (unedited, or barely, semi-coherent ramblings). There are thousands of books published every week (if not day!), and it is very, very hard to keep your head above the tide.

Almost any time I try to find a book there, it swamps me with tons of dubious, overpriced reprints of public domain works, and hideous patchwork things scraped from Wikipedia. It’s truly awful.

Amazon has an almost monopoly on ebooks as it stands and I think that’s neither “fair” (business rarely is) or great.

Yeah, agree completely. I try to buy elsewhere when I can, either direct from the author/publisher or Smashwords, or Kobo if those fail. But obviously that’s a lot more (unpaid) work for authors to put in.

I’ve broken the 10k word barrier for my story, which is delightful. It’s the longest fiction I’ve written in years. For some reason 20k+ for gaming materials is never a problem though!


Hey, that’s fantastic!
(Uh oh, the forum is asking me to contribute less to this thread… apparently I post too much. I actually agree with that… still, a little sad to see. Anyway!)

Honestly, I find the first 10k the hardest, and then the last 10k. Usually the middle 50-60k is really easy. Or, as a friend once said: Sometimes writing is really hard, like forcing your arm through a meat grinder. Sometimes it’s much easier, like forcing somebody else’s arm through a meat grinder.


Lol… no you don’t :slight_smile:

Wonderful :slight_smile: How long did you plan on it getting?
I find writing shorter works just as difficult as finishing longer ones… I am not as bad as Sanderson (my writing idol) but my ideas tend towards the “saving the world” kind of stuff and I just love world-building and once I do that everything blows up.

So yeah, December just like usual ate up my time like nothing else. And our coffee machine broke down on top of everything. So I have written about 1000 words for mine–currently still titled “The Secret War” (terrible because it doesn’t quite capture the ideas and also because I haven’t even checked if a work by that name exists)–since NaNo ended. But I have hopes that from here on out it gets better. The Xmas prep errands are have dwindled down to less than a handful and I think that this week I should get in some quality writing time.

One thing I learned from this NaNo is that despite all my wanting to do work in the mornings, I mostly write in the afternoons.

Question: do any of you like writing flash fiction? (less than 500/1k words) ?


Thanks for the detailed explanation. It gets worse and worse indeed!

That’s terrible exploitation! And not much you can do about it :frowning:


Don’t listen to that nosy meddling robot! The humans who are reading the thread very much appreciate your input/conversation!

I feel that. I think I write fiction with an extremely cynical eye, while I write rules with effortless ebullience.


Huh. Maybe I’m alone, but I’ve always felt the opposite; the beginning is easy, then it gets harder till around chapter 10 I just stop. Then I have to force myself to write something bad just to get through it, until I get to the end where I’m interested again. I also will usually write the last chapter first, so I know what it’s about. For reference, I’ve started 5 novels and completed 0, so that’s how that goes.

Question: do any of you like writing flash fiction? (less than 500/1k words

I submit something to the Australian Writers Center’s Furious Fiction contest each month. Got longlisted once! I enjoy that, but it’s hard for me to for the 500 word limit. I use a lot of words! (In case you didn’t notice :sweat_smile:)


Not I. I really struggle with low word counts… why use 100 words when 1,000 will suffice? It is really hard for me to write anything shorter than 20-30k words, and my usual comfort level is 50-60k. I usually write 100k (well, 80-90) and then cut down.

I spent a lot of 2018 writing short fiction for various sci-fi magazines (Asimov, F&SF, Clarkesworld, etc…). Raked in just over 100 rejections that year (including about 16 for novel submissions to publishers and agents). I haven’t managed to get anywhere near that many since then because I’ve had to work full-time since October of that year (I quit my previous awful, awful job in January 2018). I was quite proud of several of those stories (I still am), but there are extremely difficult for me and not nearly as satisfying.

I think I mentioned above, but I usually have a start in mind, a climax (although not always the way the protags will overcome that big crisis), and the characters, and then I let my characters kind of lead the story, if you will, usually fumbling around until I get a good idea of their tone, their place in their universe. After that, I almost always go back and cut the first three chapters I wrote (about 12k words, on average), and see if the story flows as well from there. After that, I usually go back in seed in whatever solution to the crisis I come up with so that it’s never a deus ex machina (which I despise), and then I try to clean up the story and writing.

End result is usually around 60-70k when all is said and done.


I honestly have no idea… I had the idea and just started writing. I’ll see where it goes. I suppose that’s fitting, since so many light novels start as web fiction without necessarily an endpoint in mind.

It can be fun! Although I’ve not written much, and not for a while, and I’m not sure I’ve written any in English. Hmm.

The best way to write! I think for me, it’s easier to envision a vignette or independent flashes of a character than thinking of plots. The folks here who already know the end of their stories are a wonder to me.


Today I start my next novel!.. after I finish my first-ever backup of my laptop.

Theoretically, at least. I’ve tried to start “Time Machine” four times, and so far it hasn’t worked. Nice, new, 14TB hard drive right here (for the record, I think that if you added together all the data space I’ve had on all my computers throughout my entire life, including a half-dozen gaming rigs and, heck, probably every Xbox, PS, and Nintendo system in the last twenty years, this little black box to my right has more space than all of those combined… probably twice as much), and it’s still completely empty because the backup just doesn’t want to work. Argh.

ANYWAY. I’m hoping that it’s a “computer goes to sleep midway through the backup” problem, which I don’t know if it’s a thing or not, but I’m hoping that if I sit here and actually do writing for the next 6 hours or so that it will actually successfully backup at least once.

As for the novel I’m going to start… sci-fi, definitely. Female protag, always. I was toying around with a quest-structure story, where the protag has a ring that allows her to open absolutely any lock in the universe, but is told by her mother (before her mother passes) that there is one lock that will only open to the ring and if she wastes all its charges (or energy or whatever) before she gets to that one specific lock the universe is doomed. So she becomes the greatest lockpicker in history, to make sure that she can open any lock ever, such that she will know when she gets to that one, unopenable lock.

I’m not married to it (the original thought was a wandering starship of misfits accepts her onto their ship for adventures, but again, it’s not quite fleshed out enough yet), but I’ve written a few space operas and a military sci-fi, so I think a good ol’ fashioned quest might be due.


So today I get to actually start writing the novel. Finished with the outline, except for one teeny, tiny little thing. I have two protagonists (Mina Hattori and Cici DiSenza), and two antagonists (Justin Manesfield, commander of the mercenary company “The Soaring Lions”, and Diane Ghali, captain of the ship “Wind’s Howling Rage”).

The problem I have is I can’t come up with a compelling reason for Cici to join Mina’s quest. Mina wants her ship back, Cici wants to prove to the father of her “boyfriend” (a worthless son of a fabulously wealthy merchant) that she’s a worthy addition to the family… but I can’t quite figure out how that thread ties together. Is there something incredibly valuable on Wind’s Howling Rage? That might do it…

Anyway! The quest structure is looking like “Pirates of the Caribbean” meets “The Witcher” in space at this point… we’ll see how it works out.

Anyone else planning some writing for the next few months?

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My plan is finishing the nanowrimo draft/novel this month as December proved to be far too busy to get anything done.

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