It’s Launch Day! Bubbles in Space #2 Chew ‘Em Up is LIVE!

Up, Up, and Away!

Goals are fun.

They can be infuriatingly stressful and they can push us to out-perform our past limitations.

I have always performed best under pressure. Without a deadline looming over my head I’m prone to distraction and procrastination.

I could be a professional dilly dallier.

However, what I am is a professional writer.

Deadlines keep me in check with my business writing, and I knew that this is what I needed to kick my fiction writing into high gear, too.

So in January, I drew some hard lines on my calendar.

I put non-refundable deposits on contracts with my cover designer and editors, and set up my pre-orders on Amazon. If I failed to make my deadlines, I would be out some serious moolah, and be locked down on Amazon’s naughty list (and unable to set up future pre-orders) for a year.

I set myself a very aggressive release schedule for my new Bubbles in Space series. Five books in one year, with each book coming 9 weeks after the last. I have plans to release 3-4 novellas in that time, too, but they are bonus projects without the strict deadlines.

I had no idea if I could do it or not, but I knew other people could do it and that if they could find a way to make it work there was a good chance I could too.

The last few months have been a whirlwind of writing, editing, and business-learning as I dove headfirst into launching Bubbles in Space.

And I don’t want to jinx myself, but things are looking good so far! Today is release day for Book #2 Chew ‘Em Up and I couldn’t be happier with the results!

Both Tropical Punch and Chew ‘Em Up are sitting in the Top 100 of Crime and Mystery Science Fiction, which isn’t a huge category, but it’s chockablock full of heavy hitters in the genre like Dean Koontz, Martha Wells, Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, and Neal Stephenson. As an indie author, there is nothing quite like the feeling of leapfrogging one of your traditionally published idols on the charts, even if it’s only for a few days!

If you’d like to check it out and see what all the fuss is about, grab your copy today! As a special Launch week promo, both books are on sale for only $2.99 until Sunday June 6, 2021. And if you’re really keen you can pre-order #3 Pop ‘Em One for the earlybird price, too.

Click through to your regional Amazon store! books2read.com/u/bQJ9X7

The Journey So Far…

Lots of other indie Sci-Fi authors have asked about my launch strategies and how effective they’ve been. If you’re curious, here’s some of what I’ve been doing:

Last month I ran a free promo on my first book, Tropical Punch, and more than 5500 copies were claimed!

I know, I know. Giving away books for free is a poor way to make money as an author.

However, I had some ulterior motives…

Why give away my book for free?

By getting Book #1 in my series into as many hands as possible, I hoped to garner some more reviews and to start collecting pre-orders on the next books in the series. Also, and possibly most important, I wanted to teach Amazon’s algorithms which kind of people are interested in my books, and get more relevant “also bought” books showing on my page.

Was it a success?

Yup. Yup. Yup.

That’s a big yes on all counts!

I went from 14 to 45 reviews in less than two weeks. Yes, some of those were 1 and 2 star ratings from disgruntled freebie seekers. The risk in giving away books is that people sometimes take chances on books that aren’t really their thing, and some of them aren’t shy about telling the world about it. However, the vast majority of the reviews that came in are 4 and 5 star ratings, which lead to…

Pre-orders for books 2 and 3 started rolling in!

On Tropical Punch, I managed to get 19 pre-orders from my mailing list and folks who follow me on social media. That was so fantastic, as I really didn’t expect to get more than a handful. At the time of my free book promo, I only had 14 pre-orders on Chew ‘Em Up and 3 on Pop ‘Em One. But by launch day, I had 31 for Chew ‘Em Up and 15 for Pop ‘Em One!

I know, these numbers aren’t going to launch me to the top of the Amazon store, but it’s more than enough give me a boost in my little niche categories and keep the visibility on Bubbles in Space up where it needs to be for more organic discovery (For someone who typically sells only 0-5 books a day, organic reach is a beautiful thing!)

The “also bought” feature is in alignment, and hopefully this will translate into smarter ads in the AMS dashboard! Though this takes a few weeks to show up, so I’ll keep you posted.

The Biggest Success?

I’m not going to become an overnight bestseller. I knew that from the beginning. Publishing is a competitive industry whether you are traditionally published or indie.

But whether or not I ever become a bestseller is kind of a secondary dream to THE BIG DREAM.

The biggest success so far has been finding a group of readers who are as excited about this series as I am! Every day, new reviews roll in and they have been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. These are reviews I didn’t solicit, from people who are just genuinely thrilled with the story.

Knowing that my book is out there, in the wild, and finding its people is the coolest thing.

Tropical Punch sold an average of 2 books a day in the last 6o days. With Chew ‘Em Up out, maybe that will jump up to 4 books a day! By the time the series is complete, it could be 10+ books a day!

Well, I won’t be retiring any time soon, but I should break even this year!

And in 5 years, anything is possible…

Thank You for Your Support!

Indie Feature Friday: Behind Blue Eyes by Anna Mocikat

I’ve gone and lost track of days again, so let’s just start out by pretending it’s still Friday!

In the last few weeks I’ve been working my way through my collection of Indie Cyberpunk Novels and I have been so pleasantly surprised by all the great work in this genre.

First was Grinders by C.S. Boyack, which is the perfect blend of cyberpunk and detective tropes. I was instantly hooked by the glittery high-tech world and the perfectly balanced dynamic between Jimi Cabot and her partner on the police force. I couldn’t put it down. Although it is different in tone, Grinders is the novel that inspired me to write my own cybernoir detective series, and is directly responsible for the birth of Bubbles in Space. I cannot recommend it enough!

Next I read Into Neon by Matthew A. Goodwin, which is a quick, easy read with great world building and a diverse cast of characters. It’s the kind of book you can pick up and devour in a single sitting when you just want some fun, action packed entertainment. Sci-Fi flavoured candy at its best!

And now we have something a little bit different again.

This one is a serious page-turner…

Behind Blue Eyes by Anna Mocikat

The Plot

In a future world ruled by warring mega-corporations, cyborg Nephilim believed she was fighting a righteous cause.

As a powerful, genetically and cybernetically enhanced elite soldier her brutal and violent life is not truly her own – until one day, a simple glitch separates her from the grid.

For the first time in her young life, she is free…and she has doubts. Doubts that bury deeper into her psyche when she meets Jake, a mysterious, 100% bio-human.

He opens her neon-blue eyes to the lies she had been exposed to all her life. Questioning everything she has ever known, Nephilim resolves to take a stand. To hold on to this freedom, she has miraculously discovered. But can one person, no matter how strong, beat an all-powerful system of oppression? Soon, Nephilim finds herself hunted by her own people in a deadly game of survival…

For fans of Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell and Altered Carbon!

My Review

This book has been on my radar for a while, as I follow Anna Mocikat on Instagram and Twitter. Behind Blue Eyes has been consistently well placed in the Cyberpunk charts and fans literally RAVE about it at every opportunity.

So, I admit, my expectations were pretty high going in.

Mocikat does not disappoint!

Behind Blue Eyes is fantastic. It manages to hit all of the major genre themes, and still to be completely different from the last two indie cyberpunk novels I have reviewed. It is dark, gritty, and violent with a strong sexual undertones. A very different mood than Grinders or Into Neon.

There is quite a bit of world-building at the beginning of the novel and it took me a few chapters to get into the flow of the story, but once I did it was like being caught in a riptide.

Mocikat is a masterful plotter working in an intricate world with complex characters.

One of my favourite things about Behind Blue Eyes is the evolution of Nephilim’s character as the secrets of her world are revealed. She is a seriously badass cyborg warrior, and this could easily have turned into a Mary-Sue type character who just can’t seem to do anything wrong. But Mocikat manages to bring Niphilim’s humanity front and centre, and the plot focusses on her vulnerabilities rather than her physical invincibility, so that even though she’s literally built for world domination, she is constantly coming up against conflicts she isn’t prepared to handle.

I also really appreciate that, although there is a romantic subplot, and there are a lot of sexy themes being explored, Mocikat never delves into “steamy romance” territory. Full disclosure: I am not a romance fan. Really detailed sex scenes always make me cringe, and books with too many of them usually end up in my DNF pile. Mocikat handles it very well, and I think the sexual themes were all the more titillating because they were hinted at rather than being shoved in your face. I mean, sex is everywhere in the book, and the blasé attitudes of the characters toward it was refreshing in itself. But Mocikat leaves the actual squidgy parts up to our imaginations (thank you!)

In Nephilim’s exploration of her humanity (as a genetically engineered cyborg) Mocikat really digs into one of the most interesting themes in cyberpunk literature: where do we draw the link between (wo)man and machine? What makes any of us human? This really added a layer of emotional satisfaction to Nephilim’s character arc, and I will absolutely be diving into the next book, Fallen Angels.

If you love books and don’t have time to read these days, Mocikat has just dropped the audiobook for Behind Blue Eyes on Amazon’s Audible, and it’s been getting awesome reviews as well.

Discussion

Have you read Behind Blue Eyes? What did you think? Is this one you’ll be adding to your TBR list? If you have a favourite cyberpunk novel, please share it in the comments!

New Feature at scjensen.com

Greetings!

This post is for the book worms (and the book dragons!)

If you read books faster than you can earn money to buy them, I have a gift for you…

How to find FREE and Discount Books at scjensen.com!

There are almost always free and discount book promotions going on around the web. There are many sites dedicated to just this service. But if you don’t want to hunt them down yourself, I’m offering a new feature right here which you might be interested in!

I have a new page called the Free Book Bonanza! This is where I will be linking all the free and discount book promotions that I come across (and participate in). There will be a section for FREE books, Kindle Unlimited books, and deeply discounted books for all your bargain hunting needs.

You can find the link to the Free Book Bonanza in the drop down menu. It will be updated regularly so all the deals found on that page will be currently running with the dates clearly marked.

Check it out!

Why not head over and let me know what you think? Which genres would you like to see represented here? Do you prefer FREE books (usually requires signing up to the author’s mailing list), Kindle Unlimited books, or discounted books?

Let me know in the comments!

FREE Cyberpunk and LitRPG Books from the Mysterious IASFA

Juicy news!

I belong to the International Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors (IASFA) and they are putting together monthly lists of free books from some of the biggest Indie authors in the genres.

Each month, the IASFA releases a collection of limited time FREE books from one SF&F subgenre.

This month it’s Cyberpunk/LitRPG/Gamer Lit, for example. And next month is post-apocalyptic.

If you are an SF&F author you can join the community here –> https://iasfa.org/join-iasfa/

If you are a reader, you can sign up to receive free books every month here –>  https://iasfa.org/get-free-books

Now, check these books out!

Here’s a note from the IASFA about the promo:

From May 11th through the 15th, pick up enough free LitRPG/GameLit/Cyberpunk novels to fill your summer reading needs.

Play the game, win the prize, or die.

Dakota Krout had this to say about the genre: “LitRPG is progression fantasy or science fiction bound by the rules of a video game. It uses a hard-magic system that allows the readers an in-depth look at those rules, which ensures consistency and allows for the mitigation of power creep.”

Available only from the mysterious IASFA.

This link takes you to the sign-up, where there are a few more steps because the evil internet trolls have attacked and we must hold them at bay.

1) click this link https://iasfa.org/get-free-books

2) Become an Insider by filling out your name (or online persona) and email address

3) Answer the math problem because we know trolls suck at math

4) Check your email – you should have received a confirmation email thanking you for subscribing, but you have to click on this to confirm your confirmation because we know that is the kiss of death for trolldom

5) Your subscription is confirmed! Go back to your email for the final confirmation which, during the free promotion period, will include the super-secret link that takes you into the back-end of the site where you can find incredible titles from some of the top names in the genre as well as well-established newcomers. If you join before the promotion timeframe, then you’ll get an email on the first day of the promotion with the super-secret link.
Find your next favorite author right here, right now.And next month, get ready for the end of the world as we know it – Post-Apocalyptic titles will tease your reading fancy from June 9-13.

S.C. Jensen Author Update

Greetings, strangers!

I’ve been busy, busy getting lots of fun new stuff ready for you.

I have two more books in the Bubbles in Space series coming to you this Spring and Summer.

I have some book reviews I’ll be posting in the coming weeks.

I’m tossing around the idea of serializing my HoloCity Case Files novellas… Is that something you’d like to see? Let me know in the comments!

I will also be re-releasing my dystopian science fiction trilogy, The Timekeepers’ War, after receiving some bad news earlier this year.

More on that at the end of the post. Now for the fun stuff!

Upcoming Posts

I will be doing reviews on the following cyberpunk and cybernoir novels in the next few weeks:

  • Neuromancer by William Gibson
  • Noir by Christopher Moore
  • Liquid Cool by Austin Dragon
  • Into Neon by Matthew A. Goodwin
  • Behind Blue Eyes by Anna Mocikat, and
  • Flatlander by Larry Niven

There will be more to come as I finished reading though my list of Indie Cyberpunk books, check it out –> HERE <–

Bubbles in Space Update

Things are starting to ramp up for my new sci-fi series Bubbles in Space. I just got Book #2 in to my editor last month and it will be out at the end of May. I’m done plotting Book #3, and will be diving into drafting ASAP once my edits are complete on #2.

I’ve got a really aggressive (for me!) release schedule planned this year and everything is on track, which means you will get your Bubbles fix right on schedule!

The HoloCity Case Files are a parallel series of mystery novellas, which I’ll be publishing along side Bubbles in Space. They can be read in any order, and you do not have to read them in order to read Bubbles in Space.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s everything you need to know:

Prequel Novella — Dames for Hire: HoloCity Case Files #1

Dirty jobs call for dirty dames.

But this is a bit much…

After a suspicious accident costs her a career, an arm, and nearly her life, Bubbles Marlowe needs all the help she can get.

When a friend asks her to do a little dirty work on the side, Bubbles isn’t prepared for just how dirty it’s going to get.

An arrogant scientist, a young heiress, a gambling king pin, and a few too many hired guns…

Can Bubbles finish the case before it finishes her?

HoloCity’s femme fatales are out in full force in this cybernoir detective thriller.

And these dames don’t mess around.

Join S.C. Jensen’s VIP Readers Club and read Dames for Hire for FREE! –> Join Here! <–

Or, you can buy it on Amazon for $0.99! –> Buy Now! <–

Or, when I start the serials, you’ll be able to CLICK HERE to start reading on the blog. (Coming soon!)

Tropical Punch: Bubbles in Space #1

Strippers, Drugs, and Headless Corpses…

All in a day’s work for Bubbles Marlowe, HoloCity’s only cyborg detective.

What do an anti-tech cult, a deadly new street drug, and the corrupt Chief of Police have in common?

It’s a question Bubbles can’t afford to ask. Last time she got curious it cost her job, a limb, and almost her life.

She vows to stay out of police business. But with a newly minted cybernetic enhancement, a semi-legal P.I. licence, and a knack for asking the wrong kind of questions…

Vows are made to be broken.

But as the body count stacks up, Bubbles realizes she’s made a terrible mistake.

Can she figure out who is behind the murders before she loses her head?

Read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited or Buy Now from Amazon for $4.99! –> Get it now! <–

Chew ‘Em Up: Bubbles in Space #2

She didn’t ask for this…
Now, there’s no going back.

Bubbles Marlowe prefers to stick to the shadows. But when one of her cases blows up in the media, the private eye is thrust into the public eye.

The timing couldn’t be worse.

Her best friend is on the run for her life and she needs Bubbles’ help!

Now the wrong kind of people are sitting up and taking notice… And the clock is ticking.

The friends will do anything it takes to get out of HoloCity. Even if it means leaving the planet.

Forever…

Can Bubbles survive her newfound stardom long enough to save her best friend?

Or is HoloCity going to chew them up and spit them out?

Coming May 31st, 2021… Pre-Order today for only $2.99! –> Get it now! <–

Pop ‘Em One: Bubbles in Space #3

You win some, you lose some.
And sometimes you lose everything…


Bubbles Marlowe is lost.

Lost in space, lost in love, lost in life.

After a contract to protect her best friend goes horribly wrong, things go from bad to worse.

Her best friend wakes up from a coma… changed. Rae has crucial information locked inside her brain, and she’s not talking.

Bubbles’ ex-partner and would-be lover has been kidnapped and brutalized by the megacorp, Libra. They want to exchange Tom for Rae, but she needs to save them both.

On top of all this, she finds herself the de facto property of an asteroid mining company! (Don’t even ask.)

They want to use her to start a war.

Bubbles has no choice but to follow orders…

It’s the only way she can keep Rae safe and save Tom’s life.

But can she pull off the heist without getting herself and everyone she loves killed?

And if even she can, what’s the point of saving them all if it means starting a corporate war?

Coming August 2nd, 2021… Pre-Order today for only $2.99! –> Get it now! <–

Spit ‘Em Out: Bubbles in Space #4

Coming October 2nd, 2021

Cherry Bomb: Bubbles in Space #5

Coming December 6th, 2021

HoloCity Case Files

I have another 2-3 novellas planned for release this year, alongside the Bubbles in Space series. I will be finishing them up in my downtime between drafts and don’t have a set release schedule for them. But they will all be available for FREE to my VIP Readers Club, for $0.99-$2.99 Amazon Kindle, and possibly as serials on the blog (if you guys are into it!)

UPDATE: The Timekeepers’ War Trilogy

As many of you know, March 2021 was supposed to be the release of Ghostlights: The Timekeepers’ War Book 2. It’s been a very long time coming, since The Timekeepers’ War Book 1 came out in 2014!

I was really excited about the release, and in the meantime have finished the final installment in the trilogy, Weirfall, anticipating a 2022 release.

Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.

My publisher, David G. Barnett, passed away suddenly in February. This was very sad news for me. I never met Dave in person, but he was instrumental in getting my author career off the ground.

When I was querying The Timekeepers War, my first ever novel, I was initially surprised by how well the novel was received by agents and publishers alike. I got many requests to read longer and longer excerpts, but ultimately each of these flickers of hope were snuffed out by rejection.

I couldn’t figure out why such positive responses were going nowhere.

I would probably have given up if it weren’t for the feedback I received from Dave.

He gave me actionable advice on how to make my manuscript where it needed to be. I followed his advice, worked with a developmental editor, and ended up cutting almost 50K words from the book! When I was finished, I asked Dave if I could submit it to him again.

He said yes!

I signed on with Bedlam Press only a few months after my twins were born.

I became a published author because Dave cared enough about my story to reach out and help me. And he continued to be a great support over the years, even while it took me so long to finish book two with three little kids running around my feet. Dave had a passion for great stories and he really cared about the authors he worked with. He will be sorely missed by me, and all of the other author’s he took a chance on.

With Dave’s passing, Necro Publications and Bedlam Press are being dissolved. So as the company’s assets are being sorted through, the trilogy is in limbo.

I do plan on self-publishing the books myself and re-releasing them next year.

So, to those of you who are still patiently waiting for Book 2, I promise you’ll get it! And Book 3 shortly after that.

If you haven’t started the series yet, please hold off on buying it until the new version comes out.

Thanks for reading!

Tropical Tuesday Cover Reveal: M.J. McGriff’s The Secret Library is almost here!

Tropical Tuesday Cover Reveal: M.J. McGriff’s <i>The Secret Library</i> is almost here!

Steaming jungles, huge slithering snakes, and a mysterious prophecy…

Oh, and pirates! Don’t forget the pirates!

Spring has only just sprung here in the Great White (Brown?) North but I’m so ready for some summery beach reads.

Don’t get me wrong. I love springtime, but it takes a touch of the tropics to warm my bones after a long, cold winter.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce the new cover and upcoming releases of one of my favourite indie fantasy writers, The Secret Library by M.J. McGriff!

I have met a lot of fantastic indie writers over the years and I’ve read a lot of fabulous indie books. And M.J. McGriff is one of the most fantastic and fabulous. So I’m thrilled to be able to share the release of her second novel in the Magian Series, The Secret Library.

McGriff writes YA fantasy adventure novels full of swashbuckling pirates, magical prophecies, and tons of sassy dialogue. The Magian Series Book One: Macario’s Scepter is a fast-pasted, rollicking fun book that I read in a single sitting. And I was thrilled to be able to be an advanced reader for it’s sequel, The Secret Library.

If you love Indian Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll love these books!

Happy cover reaveal, M.J. McGriff! It looks amazing!

The Secret Library by M.J. McGriff

When a surly pirate and a treasure-hunting nun fall into a cursed jungle with the Order captain tasked with their capture—what else could possibly go wrong? 

Seraphina Davalos left her seminary and inserted herself into Captain Mari Adlam’s pirate crew to gain passage to a mysterious isle said to hide a secret library. In this library is the knowledge her twin sister—the one chosen by the gods to wield Macario’s Scepter—needs to defeat the awakening monsters and stop the end of the world. 

No big deal, right? Unfortunately, Captain Luis Fozo is much less concerned with taboo myths and impending doom. He’s determined to exact revenge on the pirates responsible for his brother’s death. 

His plan goes sideways, however, when he falls through an ancient portal and is forced to work together with Seraphina and Mari to survive sirens, harpies, diabolical traps, and whatever else the cursed jungle conjures on their path to the library—and escape.  

Their alliance is only temporary, though. He doesn’t believe their conspiracy theories about the world ending in the slightest. And he certainly, most definitely—without question—is not falling for a brave, naive nun who’s as intelligent as she is beautiful.  

It’s only a few days, a few monsters, and a few curses. How bad could it be? 

A funny, page-turning adventure great for fans of Indiana Jones with a dash of Pirates of The Caribbean.

Pre-Order Today and Swag Away!

You can preorder this tropical adventure right now at major retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and more! When you do, you can score awesome preorder swag that gets you ready for warmer weather. Just visit @mj_mcgriff’s Instagram bio to preorder the book and submit your receipt for swag!

Discussion

Have you read any good pirate tales lately? Share them in the comments below!

Creative Business 101: How to Build an Author Newsletter in 5 Easy Steps

Author Newsletters.

Everybody tells you we need to have one.

Every author will spend months, and years refusing to believe it.

I addressed some of the concerns writers often have about the value of the newsletter and why I think every writer should have one in Creative Business 101: Optimization Hacks to Get Your Platforms Working Together – Part Three – Newsletters, in which I was apparently attempting to win the “longest blog title of the year award.”

But that’s a different story.

(Did I win?)

Next to the question “Do I really need an author newsletter?” the most common question that I field from my fellow authors is this: “I know I need a newsletter, but where do I start?”

How to Build a Mailing List in 5 Easy Steps

I’m taking a break from refreshing my KDP dashboard to check my pre-order numbers in the last few hours before Tropical Punch goes live on Amazon, to bring you my answer to this question.

There are a lot of different ways to build a newsletter. I’m not going to try to tell you all of them. I’m going to keep things as simple as possible and tell you what I did.

#1 Think of All the Reasons Why a Newsletter Will Not Work For You

Go ahead.

I’ll wait.

I bet you have a list of them ready to fire off at me right now.

I know, because I literally spent years refining and reinforcing this list in my own mind and avoiding what I knew needed to be done.

It’s too hard. It takes too much time. Nobody will read it. Everyone hates junk mail. I don’t want to give away my hard work to freebie seekers.

Are you done yet?

Now, write them down on a piece of paper.

Crumple that paper up into a ball.

And light it on fire.

We’re done with that now. We’re going to commit to giving this a solid effort for 6 months before we give up.

Deal?

Okay then. Now, onto…

#2 Choose a Reader Magnet

A reader magnet is the cookie you are going to use to entice people to join your mailing list.

In order to get the most out of this newsletter experiment, this must be chosen strategically.

Reader Magnets for fiction writers can be: sample chapters, short stories, novellas, or full length novels.

For non-fiction writers: sample chapters, how-to-guides, collections of your favourite blog posts, essays, or complete books. (One marketing expert I follow swears by quizzes as the best magnet for non-fiction writers and other creative businesses. I have no experience with this myself but it’s intriguing! Check out Nikki Clark here.)

I’m going to deal with fiction writers for the most part, but most of these points can be adapted.

Your Reader Magnet Should:

  • Be connected to your other work.
  • Be professionally edited.
  • Have a professional cover.
  • Be a complete story or guide rather than a sample.
  • Have a link in the backmatter where readers can buy the next book.

Let’s break this down a bit.

If you are going to give away for free something that you have put your blood, sweat, and tears into, you want to expect a reasonable return on that investment. The goal of the reader magnet is to lead readers toward buying your other books.

If you are still working on your magnum opus, you can still start building a mailing list. Arguably the best time to start your list is BEFORE you publish anything beyond the reader magnet.

A strategic reader magnet will help you build an audience before your first book even comes out. That’s gold.

EVEN IF YOU HAVEN’T WRITTEN ANY OTHER BOOKS YET!

What is a strategic reader magnet?

Ideally, it will be connected to your other work. Best is a direct connection, like a prequel, origin, or backstory for one of your characters. At the very least, it must be in the same sub-genre as your other books.

(Note: If you have more than one series, you can use more than one reader magnet. In this case you will likely need to run two separate mailing lists, unless they genres are closely related. We’re just starting out, though, so pick one.)

In my experience, and from the vast amount of research I’ve done reading about other people experiences, the ideal reader magnets are complete.

Yes, you can make samples work if you end on a great cliffhanger or call to action, but it’s risky. Some people will be annoyed by this, and we don’t want to annoy our readers.

The time they spend reading our work is an investment and we need to treat them with respect.

Where are you in your writing career? Are you still working on your first novel or do you have multiple series under your belt? If you are writing in multiple genres or write standalone novels, the newsletter will be more challenging. But you can still make it work, so long as your reader magnet is designed to attract you ideal reader and it links to the book you want to drive that reader towards.

Choose wisely.

But don’t stress too much. If at first, like me, you use a less than ideal cookie, you can always cull your list later. That’s a good problem to have, trust me!

#3a Set up Your Email Service

MailChimp or MailerLite or whatever other newsletter service. There are dozens.

MailChimp is what I use. I went with MailChimp because it has a higher threshold before you have to pay.

However, there is no customer support with the free version, the program is bloated with a bunch of stuff I never use, and the subscriptions once you do have to pay are much higher than with MailerLite. I will likely switch at some point, as I’m not enamored by the Chimp.

Do some research, but don’t get too bogged down by the options.

At the free level they’re pretty similar and that’s all we need right now.

Before we get started, I have two bonus tips for you:

  1. Consider using an email address connected to your website rather than a generic gmail, outlook, hotmail, yahoo, etc. account. This will increase your odds for landing in people’s inboxes. Plus it looks more professional.
  2. Decide on a name for your mailing list. Don’t call it a newsletter or a mailing list when you’re talking to your readers. We associate this with junk mail. If you call it a Fan Club or a VIP Readers Group or a Reader Club, your readers will feel more like they belong to something special and intimate. And that’s exactly what you want your newsletters to feel like. You are not going to spam them! You are letting them into your world.

On your newsletter service you will:

  • Create a landing page to collect email addresses from your website. Not the “blog follow” emails that send people a notification when you put up a new blog post. This is for your VIP Readers. Organic email address collection from your website will typically be the most engaged people on your list. You may want to create a separate audience for these organic sign ups. Check out Newsletter Ninja: How to Become An Author Mailing List Expert by Tammi Labrecque for more details on this.
  • Create a simple welcome email automation. This is triggered any time someone joins your list. Keep it simple, remind them who you are and why they are receiving this email, request they add you to their contact list, provide a link to follow your preferred socials, or if you have a Facebook Group. One link is best.
  • [Extra Credit] Create a cookie email automation, either with a link to your reader magnet or to another freebie. Reward them early for opening your mails. This can be triggered to sent a couple of days after they sign up.
  • [Extra Credit] Create a series introduction email automation, if you are a series author. Let them know what you’re working on, provide links to your most recent work. Keep the tone friendly and informative, not salesy. This should come a couple of days after your last email.
  • You can make this onboarding sequence as simple or complex as you like. Multi genre authors might get fancy here. In my opinion, simple is better. You only really need the welcome email, and maybe the cookie.
  • Set up BookFunnel (#3b, below) and integrate with your newsletter service. You can integrate with as many sites as you use to collect addresses from. Follow the FAQs of your chosen service. It’s pretty straightforward.

#3b Set up BookFunnel

Yes, there are other newsletter builders out there. Story Origin. King Sumo. There are lots.

I recommend BookFunnel, not because it’s the best or only, but because I have personal experience with it and I feel confident in my recommendation. It costs $100 a year, and is well worth it. You can use it for sending out encrypted Beta and ARC copies as well, which is fantastic.

On BookFunnel you will:

  • Create Your Reader Magnet: Upload the cover file, and the mobi, epup, and PDF files for your manuscript. You can create this using a number of free programs. When I don’t pay for professional formatting, I use Draft2Digital.
  • Create a Landing Page that requires email opt-in.
  • Set up Integration with your Email Service, the FAQ is very helpful if you have troubles.

You can also:

  • Create ARC campaigns.
  • Create Landing Pages that do not require email opt-in, or which can only be accessed by folks already on your list (helpful for when you want to give a freebie to your list but don’t want them sharing that freebie with other people)
  • Gift books to people.
  • Create Printable download codes for in-person events or bookmarks, etc.
  • Lots of other stuff

But the BIG ONE is this:

  • Check out the Promotions tab and join some promos for your genre! It’s so big, in fact, that this is step #4

#4 Join Promos

In BookFunnel you can browse promotions by genre, or by promo type. The two main types are Sales and Newsletter Builders. When you are first starting out, you will be using Newsletter Builders.

What is a BookFunnel Promo?

A Promo is essentially a landing page with a grid of reader magnet books from all the authors who have joined the promotion. Whoever creates the promo will have a particular theme (Witches and Werewolves, or Christmas Horror, or Sweet Country Romance, or whatever). These themes can be broad (SF&F) or very narrow (SF with Strong Female Leads).

When you join a promo (check the guidelines to make sure you’re a good fit) you will agree to share the promo link in your newsletter on a particular day of the promo. You may share as many times as you like on social media, etc. but you must share with your newsletter on the date you say you will. You will be provided with a trackable link, and when the promotion is finished you will be able to see how many people clicked the link. At first, it won’t be a lot because you will have a non-existent list. That’s okay. The important thing is to keep joining promos, and keep sharing on the dates you say you will. The number of promos you have joined and the number of links clicked become your “reputation” and having a higher rep will unlock higher end promos.

That’s a lot of info. Don’t worry about it too much. Here’s how it works:

  1. Join a Promo (I usually join 3-4 that overlap and commit to sharing them all on the same day). Pro Tip: If you are just starting out, you will want to pick a date near the end of the promo if possible, because then you will have some people on your list to click those links when you write your newsletter.
  2. Follow the link to each promo and save the header image/banner image, or create your own in Canva or BookBrush if you’re handy at that kind of thing. Better images get more clicks. Experiment!
  3. On your share date, create your first email campaign. This is just a fancy way of saying write your email. At the bottom of your email, you will post the promo images with your tracking links. This provides value to your readers! Not sure what to write about in the rest of the email? I’ll cover a bit more on that at the end.
  4. Share your images/links as many times as you like on your blog and social media. You can even do a $5 boosted post on Facebook to get more clicks and improve your rep. The more times those links get shared by all authors in the promo, the more eyes are on all of the books. Sharing is caring!
  5. Repeat. With a good cover and joining 3-4 promos a month, you should start seeing a couple hundred newsletter signups a month!

#5 Newsletter Maintenance

You don’t need to make this a full time job. Commit to writing one email a month to share your updates and promo links. Unless you have a rabid and highly engaged audience you don’t want to send out more than two a month. Big authors can get away with one or two a week. But start with one or two a month. It’s more than enough.

What Should I Write About in my Newsletter?

Check out my suggestions here or do a bit of searching on the interwebs. There are lots of lists!

The important things to remember are:

  • Keep it casual and friendly in tone.
  • Use your “natural” voice, be yourself. If your books are full of smut and cursing, you don’t want your emails to be too prim and proper. You want people who don’t “get you” to unsubscribe. Yes. I said that. You don’t want deadweight on your list. You have to pay for those people! Be yourself. If anyone doesn’t like that, they can take a hike. That makes room for someone who does like you.
  • Don’t try to sell anything, yet. You can use your mailing list to shout out new releases and sales, but try to keep it at an 80/20 ratio. 80% of the time you are providing value to them. 20% of the time you can ask them to do something for you, a gentle ask. In my opinion, one email for e-book pre-orders, and one for launch day is plenty. If it’s been a while between releases, you can use your 20% to remind them of an existing series.
  • Provide value. I know I just said that, but it’s important enough to say it twice. Give your readers something. Tell a funny story, share a relevant meme, or pictures of your pets (these will get more engagement than anything, I swear! we love our furbabies!), link to your most popular blog posts that week. Share your BookFunnel promo links.
  • Build engagement. Take a poll, ask to see a picture of their pets (seriously, try it), ask an open ended question and ask readers to “hit reply” to respond then share the results of those responses in your next email (this is great social proof, when people see that other readers are engaging with you they want to be part of the inner circle too!) Engagement helps your emails stay out of the junk mail. Win win!

Extra Maintenance

Keep an eye on your open rates and click rates. This can give you a good idea of what kind of Subject Lines get the most engagement.

You can get fancy and run A/B testing (send half your list one email and the other half a different one and see which performs better)

I don’t. I just mess up and let people unsubscribe.

If they don’t unsubscribe but they haven’t opened one of my emails in the last three months, I unsubscribe them myself.

I would rather have a small, highly engaged mailing list than a big bloated list of people who never open my emails. I aim for an open rate of 50% or higher. If my open rates drop below that, I cull my list. It’s not the only way to do it, but it’s my way.

And I have a great little list!

Unexpected Benefits of Having a Mailing List

These are some of my happy discoveries. My mailing list has:

  • Helped me find new beta and ARC readers.
  • Started some great conversations.
  • Given me motivation to keep writing when I start to feel like no one cares.
  • Given me a place to ask questions and bounce ideas when starting a new series.
  • Helped me find my superfans (it’s a small, but growing list!)

Additional Resources

I highly recommend these books:

Discussion

Do you have a newsletter yet? If so, do you have anything to add to this list?

If you don’t have a newsletter, did this post help answer some of your questions or ease some of your fears?

What else would you like to know?

Dirty Deeds call for Dirty Dames…

There are only two more days until the release of my new cyber noir detective novel Tropical Punch!

To celebrate, I’m giving away Dames for Hire, a prequel novella to the Bubbles in Space series.

Bubbles Marlowe is one of my favourite characters I’ve ever written. She’s tough, snarky, and most important of all (to me!) she’s sober! Bubbles is the first sober character I’ve written since I quit drinking three years ago, and I didn’t realize until I started how much I needed to write her.

I’ve long been a fan of hard-boiled detective novels and noir stylings, but these books, many of which were written during and just after prohibition, are steeped in alcohol.

It’s a tradition that has been carried forward into modern detective novels, too. It seems impossible to find a private-eye who doesn’t evade past trauma by diving into the bottom of a bottle. Worse are the novels that glamourize alcohol abuse in such a way that it makes it seem that our heroes thrive because of their addiction rather than in spite of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love me some Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

But I wanted something else, too. I wanted to write a character who reflected not only my own struggles with alcohol, but my freedom from it. I wanted a character who proved you can be sober and a badass!

So here it is…

Click the link to join my VIP Readers’ Club and claim your copy today!

Dirty jobs call for dirty dames.

But this is a bit much…

After a suspicious accident costs her a career, an arm, and nearly her life, Bubbles Marlowe needs all the help she can get.

When a friend asks her to do a little dirty work on the side, Bubbles isn’t prepared for just how dirty it’s going to get.

An arrogant scientist, a young heiress, a gambling king pin, and a few too many hired guns…

Can Bubbles finish the case before it finishes her?

HoloCity’s femme fatales are out in full force in this cybernoir detective thriller.

And these dames don’t mess around.

You’ll love Dames for Hire because it’s got glitter and grit, mystery and hard-boiled badassery.

Get Tropical Punch For Free!

Click the image to Pre-Order your copy today!

Get ready to get PUNCHED

I’m giving away 100 review copies of my new cyber noir detective series on Goodreads!

If you love Sci-Fi and are looking for something fresh and fun, this is the book for you.

Tropical Punch is packed with glitter, grit, off-the-wall humour, and plenty of fast-paced action. You will not be able to put it down!

Enter Today!

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tropical Punch by S.C. Jensen

Tropical Punch

by S.C. Jensen

Giveaway ends March 29, 2021.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/321163

Click the link above to enter the Goodreads Giveaway today! Or, if you want to guarantee you get a copy, you can always pre-order it here.

Winners will be announced on launch day, March 29, 2021.

Do You Love Goodreads?

I have recently restarted my Goodreads account after years of neglect. But I’d love to have more friends over there. So if you’re active on Goodreads, please add me so I can creep your bookshelves and check out what you’re reading and reviewing.

Reading Goals for 2021

Goodreads Reading Challenges have become a big motivator for avid readers and book reviewers in a lot of the online book clubs and groups I belong to, so this year I decided to set a challenge for myself.

I want to read 40 books this year.

I’m already 16 books into my goal, so things are looking promising! This is not including the middle grade and young adult books I read out loud to my kiddos (we do about 1.5 books a month with bedtime reading.)

What’s your reading goal this year? Tell me in the comments!

These 5 Real Life Cyborgs Will Blow Your Mind!

There are cyborgs walking among us…

Does the idea of robotic human hybrids give you chills?

It shouldn’t!

When the word “cyborg” comes up, many people think of popular Sci-Fi villains like the Terminator, Darth Vader, or Star Trek’s Borgs. But don’t worry. Today’s real life cyborgs aren’t out to take over the world.

Yet…

A cyborg is a person (or animal, potentially) made up of a combination of organic and mechanical parts. Typically, today, the most common cyborgs are people with prosthetic limbs. Some even extend the definition to include those with cochlear implants, pacemakers, or contact lenses.

No matter what your definition, though, advancements in medical science are quickly making cybernetic enhancements a part of our every day lives.

What’s in store?

Future cybernetic technologies might include brain implants to help improve memory or aid learning, chips imbedded in our fingers to replace passwords or bank cards, advanced prosthetic limbs to make us faster and stronger, and even exoskeleton armor for military and police use.

Many of these technologies are already in the research and development stages. Some are even being tested by adventurous volunteers!

Here are some of the most fascinating real life cyborgs walking among us today!

Neil Harbisson

Neil Harbisson, Cyborg

Neil Harbisson is a Catalan-raised, British-born contemporary artist and cyborg activist best known for having an antenna implanted in his skull and for being officially recognized as a cyborg by a government.

The antenna allows him to perceive visible and invisible colors such as infrareds and ultraviolets via sound waves. The antenna’s internet connection allows him to receive colors from space as well as images, videos, music or phone calls directly into his head via external devices such as mobile phones or satellites.

Harbisson’s artworks investigate the relationship between color and sound, experiment the boundaries of human perception and explore the use of artistic expression via sensory extensions.

In 2010 he co-founded the Cyborg Foundation with Moon Ribas, an international organization that aims to help humans become cyborgs, defend cyborg rights and promote cyborgism as a social and artistic movement.

Source: https://thoughtworksarts.io/bio/neil-harbisson/

Neil Harbisson became a cyborg in order to overcome a condition called achromatopsia. or extreme colorblindness, meaning he could only see in black-and-white. He has since become an advocate for transhumanist evolution. Harbisson believes not only that people should seek to improve the species via technology, but that we have a moral obligation to do so.

What do you think about that?

Dr. Kevin Warwick

Dr. Kevin Warwick, Cyborg

In 1998, Dr. Kevin Warwick had a simple radio frequency identification (RFID) transmitter implanted beneath his skin, which he used to control doors, lights, heaters, and other computer-controlled devices. His goal was to test the limits of what kind of implants the human body would accept and whether or not it would be possible to receive meaningful sensory or data input from such a device. And, of course, to become a cyborg.

Dr. Warwick has since conducted more experiments in cyborg technology, using both himself and his wife as the subjects. One such experiment allowed him to control a robotic arm–by connecting his nervous system to the internet–from halfway around the world. A similar experiment connected his nervous system to that of his wife, so that he could feel when someone touched her hand, no matter where in the world they both were!

Dr. Warwick’s ultimate aim with these experiments is to one day create a form of telepathy or empathy using the Internet to communicate the signal over huge distances.

This could be a boon to those in long-distance relationships! Also, possibly, for hyper-controlling sociopaths… but that’s another story…

James Young

James Young, double amputee, cyborg

After losing an arm and leg in an accident five years ago, James Young turned to technology to make the most of his new path in life. He teamed up with Japanese gaming company Konami to design his own cybernetic arm, the result of which is enough to make any Sci-Fi geek drool!

Being a double amputee, arm as well as leg, means I have the opportunity to reflect on how we use our bodies in two ways. Feet must give me stability, control and power, and hands must give me fine muscular control. My goal is to find a way in which I can interface with technology with such low cognitive burden and finesse as it to be considered natural rather than using a piece of external assistive equipment.

James Young, on prosthetic limbs and being a “cyborg.” Source: http://jamesahy.com/prosthetics

Young was a part of The Phantom Limb Project, a documentary based on the development of Young’s prosthetic arm which was based on the character Snake from the popular Metal Gear Solid video games.

No. It doesn’t have a rocket launcher. I checked.

Angel Giuffria

Angel Giuffria, archer, actress, and cyborg

Angel Giuffria is a self-proclaimed “bionic actress.” She has appeared in The Accountant with Ben Affleck and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay alongside Jennifer Lawrence. Giuffria hopes that, with increased attention given to the representation of marginalized people in film, more roles will begin to open up for people with disabilities.

“I was born missing my arm, below the elbow, and I was fit with a myoelectric muscle operated prosthesis when I was very young. Obviously, at that point in time, they were much different and not as high-tech. As I’ve gotten older and the prosthetics have advanced, I’ve tried to stay as current as I could with the latest technologies.”

Angel Giuffria, in an interview with Gizmodo, Source: https://io9.gizmodo.com/bionic-actress-angel-giuffria-is-ready-for-people-with-1826081412

While Giuffria once favoured life-like prosthetic covered in artificial “skin” so that she could blend in with her peers, the actress now embraces her bionic limb and enjoys tinkering with its appearance. Her custom prosthetic from Arm Dynamics allows her to add colourful lights, decorative metal filigrees, and even a cos-play lightsaber!

Rob Spence

After losing his right eye in a firearms accident at only nine years old. While he didn’t lose all sight in the eye, he was declared legally blind, and as he grew older what was left of his sight in the damaged eye deteriorated.

That was when doctors decided to replace the eye.

Rather than choosing a conventional glass eye, though, Spence worked with a friend to create what he calls his “eyeborg,” a wearable eye-shaped camera. Although the eye does not interface with Spence’s optical nerve, and he cannot see out of it, the cybernetic eye represents the first step in what could become a common form of wearable tech.

The “eyeborg” is an analogue camera, rather than digital, but the potential is there for digital and live-streaming versions in the future.

Creepy or cool? You tell me…

Discussion

I began researching cybernetic prosthetics when writing my new cyber noir detective series, Bubbles in Space. My protagonist, Bubbles Marlowe, becomes a private investigator after losing her arm in a training exercise accident with the HoloCity Police Department. While Bubbles in Space wasn’t intended to be hard-SF, I was gratified to learn that much of the technology I’ve used in the high-tech, low-life world of HoloCity is already a reality!

Which kind of cyborg technologies do you think you would embrace if they became publicly available?

I could go for some extra memory storage, a la the behind-the-ear microchips of Gibson’s Neuromancer

Click to Pre-Order Today!