Category Archives: Waterspell fantasy trilogy

Work-In-Progress Update

Just a quick update on my work-in-progress: I’m at 101,000 words. And only about 2/3 of the way through the story. This will either be a long book, or four novellas. I haven’t quite decided.

The working title is The Karenina Chronicles: A Waterspell Novel. The subtitles of the four chronicles: The Leviathan, The Nomad, The Adept, and The Wolf. I hope to finish the first draft by January, and then let it sit for a month before I begin what will be a major effort of revising and editing. Themes emerged as I went along. They are much clearer to me at the two-thirds mark than they were at the beginning, so I must go back and clarify my somewhat muddled thinking in the opening third.

But I’ve got time. I’m on nobody’s schedule but my own.

Happy Holidays!

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Three New Releases in Six Months: Too Fast?

With the dust beginning to settle, I’m surveying my little publishing empire, seeing what has worked and hasn’t worked since January 2022. As a refresher on the timeline of my new releases this year:

WATERSPELL: The Complete Series (Books 1-4) by Deborah J. Lightfoot; audiobook narrated by Simon de DeneyWhat a relief to have all of this frantic effort behind me! Now I can focus on making pretty promotional graphics at Canva to post on social media. I can try to remember to upload new videos to my somewhat neglected YouTube channel. Most importantly, I can start planning a new book.

Too Much, Too Fast?

At this natural pausing point, it behooves me to pause and consider whether releasing three new books or editions in less than six months might have been rushing things a little. If this frantic schedule has left my head spinning, I fear it has also confused my readers.

Waterspell: The Complete Series by Deborah J. LightfootBarely had I begun begging for reviews for Waterspell Book 4: The Witch before I was begging equally earnestly for reviews for The Complete Series boxed set. Some readers, I suspect, got muddled: They didn’t fully grasp that Book 4 is a separate publication from The Complete Series. And thus, they didn’t realize that each publication needs to be reviewed separately. Although Amazon correctly shows The Complete Series (the boxed set) as being one part of the Waterspell series, reviews for each individual book in that series are not immediately visible to shoppers who are looking at any single title in the collection. That is to say: Amazon treats each book (and edition) individually, which creates (in me) a need for readers to take the time to post individual reviews for every book and every edition. A big ask.

Waterspell Book 4: The Witch by Deborah J. LightfootIndeed, that’s a lot to ask of even the most ardent fan. All of my asking—first for the individual Book 4: The Witch, then for the boxed ebook set, and now for the culminating audiobook—has befuddled even me. I’ve no doubt that I’ve raised confusion in the minds of many readers. They (and I) would have benefited from a slower pace of new releases in 2022.

Nevertheless, rushed though it was, I’m delighted to have all of the publishing frenzy done and dusted. The new titles and new editions are out there, readers are finding them, and new reviews are appearing. The six-month sprint is over. Now I settle into the marathon of ongoing, nearly continuous book promotion.

Book Promo Overview

In May, I ranked the promotions I’d used, according to their effectiveness. With another month of experience behind me now, I’m revising two of my earlier estimations. Both of my giveaways—Goodreads and Reader Views—have improved their grades from C to B-minus.

  • Goodreads was a giveaway of 100 Kindle ebooks of The Complete Series. That giveaway has now netted me five-star ratings from two of the winners, along with a very nice review from one of those satisfied readers: “Loved it. Couldn’t put it down. 5 star box set. I may actually reread this because I enjoyed it so much.”
  • Reader Views was a giveaway of physical copies. I’d been disappointed that no recipient of those rather pricey, high-quality paperbacks had responded by word or deed. But on May 28, a winner of a print book posted on Goodreads: “Thank you, Deborah. I loved this novel and can’t wait to start Waterspell 2.” Those few words made everything worthwhile, all the expense and effort of mailing out physical copies.

I hope this doesn’t sound whiny. I’m truly grateful for every review and every star. Readers are busy. I get that. Writing reviews can be hard. I get that, too: I suck at writing reviews. Some of the reviews my books have received have filled me with awe, they’re so insightful and so beautifully written. Me? About all I can ever think to write about a book is: “I liked it.” Too many mandatory book reports in my school days ruined me for writing book reviews, I fear. But every author will value a simple “I liked it” as much as they value a detailed, four-paragraph analysis.

All reviews count. Every review matters.

To sum up: Marketing is hard, it’s expensive, and it’s time-consuming. To ensure that I’m spending my promotional dollars effectively and using my time wisely, I must pause occasionally and analyze how I’m meeting, or not meeting, my goals. At this point in my writing life, my goals are to get more reviews. At present, reviews are more important than sales. Without reviews, books (and audiobooks) won’t sell. First comes the writing/publishing, then the reviews, and THEN the sales.

Quick Links to Post Reviews

If you’re a reader who is inclined to help me out with a new review (or two, or five), I’ll be eternally grateful. 💙 Here are the direct links to post reviews at Amazon:

Waterspell: The Complete Series
Book 1: The Warlock
Book 2: The Wysard
Book 3: The Wisewoman
Book 4: The Witch

These links go to Goodreads:

Waterspell: The Complete Series
Book 1: The Warlock
Book 2: The Wysard
Book 3: The Wisewoman
Book 4: The Witch

Also, if you’d like to review the new audiobook edition, the following retailers will allow you to leave a review without having bought the audiobook there:

Apple
Google
Amazon (but not Audible)
Kobo
Scribd (with free trial)
Downpour
Goodreads

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For Google Books Readers: 50% Off

As a little experiment to attract more readers to my website and my Instagram, I’m offering the Google Books edition of WATERSPELL: The Complete Series (Boxed Set: Books 1–4) at a 50% discount via Google Play. Through May 31, just click this link to redeem the discount code.

Upon publication of the boxed set on 21 April 2022, you’ll get all four books in the series (Warlock, Wysard, Wisewoman, and Witch) for $4.48 instead of the list price of $8.95. Such a deal!

I’m also running a Goodreads Giveaway for the Kindle boxed set. Click below for more details. (The Goodreads Giveaway ends on March 31, but the Google Books discount continues through May 31, 2022.)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Waterspell by Deborah J. Lightfoot

Waterspell

by Deborah J. Lightfoot

Giveaway ends March 31, 2022.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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The Boxed Sets Are Coming

The dates are set: April 21 is release day for the Waterspell ebook boxed set, followed by the audiobook set on June 1.

Waterspell ebook boxed set

WATERSPELL: The Complete Series (boxed set of four ebooks)

Other people’s schedules largely dictated my choice of these two dates. Goodreads is having a March sale on Kindle Giveaways. As long as I book a giveaway by mid-month, I get the discounted price, and those who enter and win will get their free boxed set in April on release day.

For the audiobook edition, I hope to tie my promotions to “Audiobook Appreciation Month” in June. My wonderful narrator, Simon de Deney, is now recording Book 4 of the series and should completely finish his narration this month. Then I begin the process (I hope) of uploading nearly 100 separate MP3s at Audiobooks Unleashed.

Waterspell boxed audiobook set

WATERSPELL: The Complete Series will be available as an audio boxed set, expertly narrated by Simon de Deney.

I’m still debating about NetGalley and Written Word Media. As I mentioned in my January planning post, Written Word Media is pricey. And I read that NetGalley reviewers can be even harsher than Goodreads reviewers. Not sure I want to spend $50 and get negativity from constipated reviewers. Maybe I’ll stick with the Goodreads Giveaway, and try a little advertising for the boxed set(s), too.

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Release Day! Waterspell Book 4: The Witch

Unpacking a shipment of your own new book is a thrill like no other! I’ve had the pleasure of opening a box of my latest, Waterspell Book 4: The Witch, which is now available in print (paperback) and all ebook formats. It looks great, IMO. But I’m biased. Now it’s a waiting game, putting me on pins and needles as I look for the first reviews to come in. I’m sure I could have done more, I could have sent out more Advance Reader Copies, I could have spent more on ads and promotion. But the reality, I know, is that readers won’t care about Book 4 unless they have read and enjoyed the original trilogy.

My promotional efforts, therefore, remain focused on Book 1: The Warlock. It’s featured today, February 18, by BookRaid (with which I’ve enjoyed success previously); and on Saturday, Feb. 19, Bookorium (new to me) promotes it. After that, I intend to run only one ad each month, alternating between BookRaid and The Fussy Librarian (adding Bookorium into the mix, if that one proves successful).

Waterspell by Deborah J. Lightfoot: The Complete SeriesThe greater part of my attention must now turn to the two boxed sets: Ebook and audiobook. With Book 4 releasing (singly) in February, does it make sense to release the boxed set of ebooks in April? Is that too soon? Will that schedule give me time to promote the set? Research is needed, along with serious thought. The later in the year, the fewer the months during which the boxed set will carry the 2022 copyright date. With so much emphasis on “new releases,” keeping that 2022 date as fresh as possible, for as long as possible, seems to argue for publishing the boxed ebook set ASAP.

Then there’s the boxed set of audiobooks. Will it be most likely to find an audience during the summer months? Should it be released in May, hard on the heels of the companion ebook set? I think that might be best. But again, I should research and find out when audiobooks sell most strongly: spring, summer, fall, or winter.

Waterspell by Deborah J. Lightfoot: The Complete Set audio edition

Also washing around in the back of my mind are the words of my experienced beta reader, and the suggestions of my audio narrator. Both of them are telling me that I should write more books (or at least novellas) set in the world(s) of Waterspell. Hmm. Should I? Can I?

I think my spring, summer, and winter of 2022 will be busy.

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One Month Out: What’s Next?

Can it really be true? After planning this, for so long?

Waterspell Book 4: The Witch releases on February 18 in print, and in all ebook formats. It’s up everywhere, available now for pre-order from nearly any bookseller.

After a frantic two weeks in early January, setting up Book 4 for pre-release, then updating each ebook in the original trilogy to reference Book 4, and also refreshing the print editions of each book to ensure consistency across the Waterspell universe, I feel like I’ve been running a months-long marathon that, at the end, turned into a sprint. And the sprint ended as abruptly as if the finish line materialized out of thin air: one minute, I couldn’t even see it; the next second, I had crossed it. Every item on The Plan was checked off. I was done.

With Book 4, anyway.

Next Up: The Complete Series

As in: both boxed set(s):

Next will come the boxed ebook set. I’m thinking an April release for this, supported (perhaps) by a Goodreads Giveaway and a $50 NetGalley listing. Perhaps also with a Written Word Media promotion, although they are pricey.

Then, after the boxed ebook set is published everywhere and (hopefully) attracting notice, I can give my full attention to the boxed audiobook set.

Audio work is well under way, with the complete series now in the capable hands of an experienced, professional narrator. I’m delighted with his ongoing progress on what will be a 50-finished-hour project.

Looking into my immediate future, I feel almost relaxed. The sprint is over. The marathon continues, because marketing is an endless marathon. But compared with the frantic pace of the past few weeks and months, releasing and promoting the two boxed sets in Spring 2022 will be a leisurely stroll along an otherworldly shoreline. A stroll I’ll be happy to take … and happy to finally finish.

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Birth of a Book: Waterspell 4

Intense! The first four days of January 2022 were intense. I’ve been glued to the computer, shepherding Waterspell Book 4: The Witch into the catalogs of every major bookseller, and several less-famous stores, too.

It’s been extremely gratifying, seeing the book appear in store after store. There’s now a Universal Book Link (UBL) that takes readers to their preferred bookseller. Book 4 has a page at Goodreads now, too.

What’s next? I still need to flesh out the book’s detailed listing at Amazon, as soon as Author Central will let me. And I’m waiting on the printers to send me a proof of the paperback edition.

Once the Book 4 paperback is proofed and ready to print, I’ll begin the process of updating each of the earlier paperbacks with a repaginated interior. Printing and shipping costs being so high these days, I took the opportunity to make a handful of minor text edits to the existing paperbacks, while also repaginating them to slightly reduce the page count of each. It may not make a great difference in printing/shipping expenses, but the end-of-line hyphenation definitely looks better in the repaginated editions.

Also in the near future, I’ll be scheduling a new promotion at BookRaid. I’ve already got a one-day ad scheduled for The Fussy Librarian, for January 18.

Happily, though, Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock continues to rank quite high in its category at Amazon: #49 in Fantasy Adventure Fiction, #82 in Epic Fantasy, and #85 in Sword & Sorcery Fantasy. It’s building momentum, which I hope will carry readers through the entire series, drawing them in due course into the finale, Waterspell Book 4: The Witch.

Now, I think I’ve earned myself a nap. Followed by an online grocery-shop. I’ve been too busy to bother with mundane things like trips to the supermarket or the post office or the gas station. Book publishing takes tremendous amounts of time and effort! #ifyouknowyouknow

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Counting the Days ’til Book 4 Goes Live

It’s nearly January! I’m champing at the bit, ready to start the New Year with my long list of new publishings and refreshed publishings:

1. NEW Waterspell Book 4, both ebook and print, becoming available for pre-orders in January.
2. REFRESHED Books 1-3, ebook and print editions, going up at Amazon, Google, Smashwords, Lightning Source, etc.
3. NEW Complete Series Boxed Set, Waterspell Books 1-4, available for pre-orders in March, I think.
4. NEW Complete Series Audiobook Boxed Set, to be published in Spring 2022.

If I was better at social media, I would know just how to tease the new Book 4 with a tantalizing and intriguing Cover Reveal. Even without that, though, I’m pretty pleased with the success of my marketing efforts for the series-starter, Book 1: The Warlock. It has made it onto an Amazon Best Seller list.

To feed my need to be doing something ahead of January, which will be a flurry of publishing activity, I’m using this week to make my lists and check them twice, ensuring that every file and graphic is in readiness for January 1. I seriously doubt I can wait any longer than that, to get Book 4 out there and then begin the painstaking process of refreshing the Original Trilogy, in every edition and format. I’m committed to publishing wide, but it does take organization and forethought to ensure completeness and consistency across multiple publishing platforms, booksellers, and databases:

Yep, I think January is going to be busy! I can’t wait.

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Four Months Out: Focusing the Plan

The past 30 days have been highly productive and educational. I now have a much better idea, and a better plan, for spreading the word about the original Waterspell trilogy as well as the forthcoming Book 4 (and the forthcoming boxed set). My promotional efforts are paying off, and I’m learning what works and what doesn’t.

Today, November 18, with the official launch of Waterspell Book 4 just four months away (it should be available for pre-orders in only two months, on January 18), I’ll try to summarize what I’ve I learned.

BookBub vs. BookRaid

Hands down, BookRaid.com is better! I’ve found that BookBub is overrated and overpriced. Comparing my continuously-running BookBub ads with my one-day BookRaid ad:

• BookBub got 273 clicks at a cost of $160 = $0.58 per click
• BookRaid got 715 clicks at a cost of $62 = $0.086 per click

That’s right: A one-day BookRaid ad attracted nearly three times as many clicks, and cost me less than 9 cents per click. BookRaid advertising maxes out at $60. No matter how many clicks an ad gets, the advertiser will not be charged more than $60. It’s a Canadian company, and my credit card charged me $1.80 foreign transaction fee, so the actual, final cost came to $61.80. Divided by 715 clicks, however, that’s less than 9 cents per click, compared to the nearly 60 cents per click (!) at BookBub. What a bargain BookRaid is!

Particularly in light of the great results. My BookBub ads had been running almost continuously for weeks, and they were barely moving the needle at Amazon. In fact, almost no Amazon (Kindle) customers were even clicking on my BookBub ads; those ads mostly attracted Google Books and Apple-Canada readers. (I love my Google Books and Apple-Canada readers! Don’t get me wrong. It’s just that Amazon rankings count for so much in the crazy world of publishing.)

On November 5, Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock ranked #17,977 at Amazon:

#147 Fantasy Adventure
#289 Sword & Sorcery
#305 Epic Fantasy

But then on November 7, following my one-day BookRaid ad, my Amazon rankings were:

#446 overall
#4 Fantasy Adventure
#8 Coming of Age
#8 Sword & Sorcery

The numbers also improved at Barnes & Noble: from 124,953 before BookRaid, to 71,283 after.

ManyBooks and Fussy Librarian

Pleased though I was with those numbers, I wasn’t done experimenting. I scheduled ads for the very next Saturday, November 13, benefiting from discounted prices at both The Fussy Librarian ($39, regularly $49) and ManyBooks.net ($19, regularly $29). With those promotions running simultaneously, I can’t say which was the most effective, but together they brought me great results. That Saturday morning, Book 1 was ranked #3256 at Amazon: #26 Fantasy Adventure, #51 Sword & Sorcery, #52 Epic Fantasy.

That day and the next, those numbers climbed:


My conclusion? Stop wasting money on ineffective, overpriced BookBub ads, and direct my promotional dollars instead to the lovely folks at BookRaid, ManyBooks, and Fussy Librarian.

Goodreads and Other Social Media

After taking Alessandra Torre’s free Goodreads webinar, I’ve got a somewhat higher opinion of Goodreads. I’ve tried to implement Alessandra’s great advice about interacting effectively and efficiently on that platform. Some of her advice is:

• Leave reviews for books you love (those you can honestly 5-star)
• Like/comment on other reader reviews of those same books
• Mark your current read as “Reading”
Leave your own review of your own books (no star rating, just your comments)
• Like/comment on the 5-star reviews that readers have given you
• Share a Goodreads review on your other social media

After doing these things, I’ve definitely seen more engagement with readers at Goodreads. To my absolute delight, several new readers have gifted me 5-star reviews there. These are the first new interactions I’ve had at Goodreads in ages. My effective promotion (via BookRaid, Many Books, and Fussy Librarian), combined with my more enthusiastic Goodreads participation, seems to be attracting new supporters to my cause. I’m deeply grateful. ♥

 

These new 5-star ratings have raised my overall numbers at Goodreads to 3.97. Alessandra Torre said the average rating there is 3.5 stars, so I’m feeling good about being “above average.” ↑ Goodreads has a reputation as troll central: too often, there seems to be more emphasis on savaging a writer than on appreciating the time and effort it takes to write a book. With Alessandra’s blessing, I’ll try harder to boost and appreciate the work of my colleagues, to share the love in this crazy publishing free-for-all.

As for my other social-media efforts:

Instagram is working well. I’m connecting with readers and authors there. So far it hasn’t brought me any new reviews (that I know of), but I enjoy interacting with Bookstagrammers.

My Facebook author page isn’t worth the space it occupies. Hardly anybody sees it.

My personal Facebook profile is reserved mostly for my private life, but when I get good book news, I’m thrilled to share it with my friends and feel their love.

The Facebook groups in which I’ve been active are getting less of my time now. They’re either not focused enough on my genre, or they’re actively hostile to authors’ promotional efforts. The latter has surprised me.

What’s Next?

All that I’ve learned this past month has helped me refocus my efforts. It dawned on me that, instead of spending my entire marketing budget on individual Book 1 and Book 4 promotions, I should instead plan to vigorously promote the next big thing on my to-do list, which is the boxed set of the complete Waterspell series.

When that’s ready, I can do a Goodreads Giveaway, and also investigate a $45 NetGalley option.

With that future marketing in mind, I’m taking a break from paid advertising for the next six weeks or so. Gonna save my money for a big push in early 2022—especially now that I know what works to move the needle at Amazon.

Book 1 Amazon rank 18 Nov 2021

Even today, five days after my dual ManyBooks/Fussy Librarian promotion, Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock is well ranked at Amazon. And now it’s got 39 ratings: one more than yesterday. People are finding it and reading it! I am feeling much encouraged. It may indeed be possible to relaunch this series, after Life with a capital L sidelined me for too many years.

 

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Free Book #1 featured at ManyBooks

The ManyBooks library is featuring Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock today. In anticipation of the 2022 release of Book 4, the series-starter remains free in all ebook formats. If you’ve been planning to pick up a copy, all of the quick-links to all of the booksellers are here:
https://deals.manybooks.net/ebooks/the-warlock-waterspell-book-1

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