Holy cow! Shipbuilder made Big Al’s Five Star Week reviews.
I hate it when I whine. But I’m seriously pissed off.
Several people have recommended them as a distributor. They’ve got a hot new publishing tool, and independent authors should go NOW and upload their books. If you’re not selling on Kobo, you’re missing out on hundreds of sales!
So I read all about it and reviewed post from several authors who recommended it.
I spent a day figuring out how to format Shipbuilder for epub. I even spent $250 for ISBNs, so Shipbuilder would have its own number for Kobo distribution. It was cheaper to buy ten numbers, and I figured I could use them for other books. I wasn’t happy about it, but I did it.
Then I uploaded Shipbuilder to Kobo. It’s on their site, under science fiction and historical romance.
And you will never be able to find it.
Like I said, I’m pissed.
If you search by title, because you’ve heard of this most awesome book and you must have it on your Kobo reader right now…. I’m sorry to tell you that you will never find it.
Go try. Go over to http://www.kobobooks.com/ and type the title into their search bar.
Nada? Imagine that.
What if you don’t know the title, you just want to find a nice time travel romance to read? Or maybe a time travel about Titanic? Or perhaps you’re looking for a touching historical love story?
You won’t find Shipbuilder.
Customer service tells me that “We are aware that there are certain design flaws in our search functionality at present. Our development team is looking at ways to improve the code so that searching for books on the Kobo website becomes far more intuitive for our users. We apologise for the inconvenience of it being so hard to track down your book by its title. I will pass on information about your case to our team to aid their work.”
They further state that “we would recommend trying to use as many keywords in your synopsis as possible that might make it easier for users to track down this content on our system.”
Well, my synopsis has all the keywords I can think of: time travel, Titanic, Edwardian, early 20th century, love affair, Belfast, Ireland… I don’t know – what keywords would you search under?
Anyway, none of them bring up my book.
It does come up if you search under my name. So if you know any Kobo readers, tell them my name. Over and over again, please.
That was fast. I just found out about Addicted to Books yesterday (through Ruthanne Reid, whose book, The Sundered, was up yesterday). I signed up, sent them my book info, and lo, The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder is the second book listed on today’s front page!
If you don’t click on the link today, you probably won’t see Shipbuilder on the front page. They change the first page daily. You’ll have to “search this site” for it.
Do me a favor and share the link on your Facebook or Twitter pages. Or Google+. Or whatever…
Shipbuilder continues to sell at a steady, albeit slow, pace. I’m pleased about that. Really hope that when Bridgebuilder comes out, there’ll be a surge.
Also! There is another wonderful review from Maya Bohnhoff over at Amazon. Maya, who blogs at Book View Cafe, critiqued an early version of Shipbuilder in 2009 at the Baycon Writers Workshop. I was grateful for her comments then, and I’m just as grateful for the great review now. Thank you, Maya!
I’m happy about all the reviews people have left, and for the messages people have sent me personally. It’s not so much about the sales. It’s about that little thrill of delight I get, knowing that my story gave someone enjoyment. That’s a high it’s hard to come down from.
We have two winners!
The Goodreads Titanic Giveaway has ended, and I’m thrilled to announce the winners of a signed copy of The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder:
Carol Vander Meulen of Livermore, CA (hey, she lives just down the freeway from me!)
Stephanie O’Steen of Gainsville, FL
Congratulations ladies! And thanks for entering. Your books will be in the mail shortly. I hope you’ll let me know how you like the book.
Thanks to Alica McKenna Johnson for a wonderful interview! She had it up yesterday, but I didn’t get a chance to remind you. So now, let me remind you about another interview tomorrow, over at Indie Saturday. I hope that link works. I’ll try to update it tomorrow.
We are having a blast, to judge by our exhaustion when we return to our B&B at night. Foot report – the neuropathy has returned with a vengeance. Last night I was having shooting pains through my feet, and they burned all night. I made an effort to rest more today, sitting frequently and taking a thirty minute break at the Tower of London, and an hour-and-a-half lunch. That seemed to help – my feet are sore tonight, but no severe pain. I’ll have to pace myself. Tomorrow, we geek out at Greenwich.
Oh, and there’s a fabulous review of Shipbuilder over at You Brew My Tea. Go see!
Here we are in Belfast! United Airlines did their best to make sure we never got here, but we persevered, and triumphed in the end. Therein lies a tale, but I’m not going to tell it until I can laugh about it.
Belfast has proven to be wonderful. A great deal of the credit for that goes to Claire and Denis Nightingale. Claire and Denis are fellow Titanic Cruise passengers. If you aren’t on the cruise, you may not know that many of the passengers have hooked up with each other via Facebook or other forums. We’ve been talking to each other for years and now we are beginning to meet in person. Claire and Denis live in Belfast, so offered to show us around.
Our first day, they kindly ferried us to sites famous in Shipbuilder – the Botanic Garden and Queen’s University.
The university is beautiful. My favorite building is the Lanyon Building – very stately and Victorian. Seeing everything live should hopefully add to the authenticity of Bridgebuilders. There’s at least one scene on the campus, and I’d gotten it wrong in terms of layout and blocking. I’ll have to revise that scene based on how the real place is laid out.
After 24 hours with almost no sleep, Rick and I were nearly asleep on our feet by the time we’d looked over this much of the city. Since we were nodding off in the middle of their tour guide spiels, Claire and Denis dropped us off at our hotel, with a promise to do more on Tuesday, the next day.
Tuesday (today), we did something that I could only dream of for so long: we toured Dunallon, the home of Thomas Andrews, as well as Harland & Wolff Shipyards. Our tour guide for this was Susie Millar, whose great-grandfather helped build Titanic, then sailed on her as an engineer. He died with the ship. Susie runs Titanic Tours, and graciously scheduled us for a private tour during our only full day in Belfast. A few days earlier, Susie had asked if we minded if a film crew for German TV came along on our tour, as they were shooting a documentary on Titanic and Belfast. We were happy to accommodate them, so we’re in a documentary. How about that? Let us know if you see it on German TV.
Our first stop was Dunallon. Let me tell you, that was surreal. While writing Shipbuilder, I had seen a picture taken of Dunallon, showing the front of it. My vision of the inside was my own invention, and I had so often imagined Tom, Casey, and Sam wandering its rooms, that I felt as if I knew it.
Of course, reality was nothing like my imagination. Dunallon is more beautiful than I could ever invent. Its current incarnation is as the headquarters for Northern Ireland Football Association, so it is furnished as offices rather than as a home. But the architecture and design inside are simply amazing. Most dramatic, is the stained glass windows at the top of the stairway. They cover most of the wall of the landing, with designs of flowers and trees that grow on the property, as well as birds, a sunrise, and the moon at night. I never knew that was there, or you can bet it would have shown up in my book!
I can see that I will have to put out a new edition of Shipbuilder, acknowledging some of my errors, to set the record straight. My book is fiction, but I want to be honest about the places that are real, and show how my book differs from reality.
I felt giddy at being in Thomas Andrews’ home, where so much of my story takes place. I will always be grateful I got to see it.
Dunallon was only the beginning of our adventure, though. We made a brief detour so the film crew could shoot some footage of one of the many Peace Walls in Belfast. I’ll talk about those in another post. Because our next stop on the tour was the new Titanic Quarter, and Harland & Wolff Shipyards.
What can I say? The new building designed for the centenary is as unique as any building I’ve ever heard of. And while many unique, dramatic buildings make you wonder, “What drug was that architect taking?” I think this one is gorgeous. It’s certainly dramatic.
There’s no mistaking that this building has something to say. It’s as tall as Titanic, so gives you a good idea of how big the ship was. The walls are shaped like the bow of a ship. Inside, there are holographic displays of how they built the ship, and a ride that takes you through the building from bottom to top. We got to peek inside for just a moment, for the construction workers were working very hard to have everything ready for the grand opening on March 31. Sadly, we will be leaving Belfast before then, so won’t get to see it in action. Saturday’s opening is going to be a grand gala event, and half of Belfast will probably be there. Our guide, Susie, has a big role to play in that event as well, and she’s very busy getting ready for it all.
At the base of the building, are the slipways upon which Titanic, and her sister ship, Olympic, were built. From March 1908 to May 1910, the shell of Titanic grew from the original keel to the elegant liner we all immediately recognize in photos. Walking along this slipway, for almost 900 feet, you get another good perspective on how large Titanic was. She took up the entire space, lengthwise, and all the air space above, to the height of the new building just finished. My mind cannot quite comprehend it, but even what I can grasp, is astonishing.
We walked to the very end of the slipway, to stand at the edge of the lough where Titanic’s stern ended. Then we imagined the day when thousands of people gathered to watch, as Lord Pirrie and Thomas Andrews directed the workers to clear the scaffolding away from Titanic, and she slid steadily backwards into the water, all 882 feet of her, in just over one minute.
I knew all this from my research, but seeing the space made it so much more real.
I’m saddened to report that we weren’t able to gain access to the building where Thomas Andrews worked. Workers were busy restoring parts of it for the big grand opening on Saturday, and we just couldn’t go in. But we walked by the building and Susie pointed out where the drawing room was located. It would have been wonderful to actually see it, but I’m happy to be as close as I was.
We finished our day with a quick trip to the Belfast Folk and Transport Museum (trains! BIG trains, as well as some Titanic stuff). Claire Nightingale played tour guide for this, too, then she and Denis showed us a couple of their favorite watering holes – Robinson’s Pub for a quick drink, then over to the Morning Star Pub for a wonderful dinner made from local ingredients. You know I liked that!
Along the way, we walked by City Hall and got some surreptitious pictures of the old Titanic Memorial. Like everything else, it was locked away for repairs and cleaning before the centenary. But we found a hole in the wooden fence surrounding it and got a couple of shots.
So, what do you think? Did I exaggerate when I said I would see some marvelous sights on this trip? Tomorrow, we’re off to London. There will be less about Titanic going on there, but, hey – it’s London. We’ll find something to do!
Tomorrow is Flying Day. That means that today is Final Packing Day, and that should tell you the state of my nerves. Nevertheless, I want to sit down and pull my thoughts together. I hope to have a lot to offer you over the next few weeks. Aren’t you dying to know about some of it?
A few things are done and on the schedule (give that word the soft British “sedule,” if you please). I will, after all, be in England, and on a very British cruise.
I have three guest appearances coming up:
Interview on Thursday, March 29 at Alica McKenna Johnson’s blog.
Interview on Saturday, March 31 at RandomizeMe Indie Saturday
Interview on Saturday, April 14 at JeanzBookReadNReview
Thanks to each of these wonderful bloggers for introducing me to your readers!
Here are a few blog-worthy adventures I hope to share with you:
On Tuesday, March 2 7, we’ll be touring the Harland & Wolff Shipyards in Belfast. This is obviously a huge highlight for me, especially since it includes a stop at Dunallon, the house that Thomas Andrews lived in with his wife and daughter. Our tour guide is Susie Millar, great-granddaughter of a Titanic engineer, who died in the sinking. She tells his story in her book, The Two Pennies – A True Story from the Titanic.
A German TV crew will be filming part of the tour, so if you live in Germany, you just might see it!
On Sunday, April 8, we board our ship, the Balmoral, and begin our journey to follow Titanic’s route. This should be a fun day, as we’ll begin meeting all the other Titanic-cruisers I’ve been chatting with on Facebook, for the last two years.
Monday, April 9, we spend the day in Cobh, Ireland, the last stop Titanic made before heading out to sea. Cobh, which was called Queenstown in 1912, has long honored the Titanic dead. Most of Titanic’s Irish passengers boarded from this city.
On the night of April 14-15, one hundred years after Titanic’s collision with the iceberg, we will be at the site of her final resting place in the North Atlantic. This will be a solemn occasion. Even now, I get quiet and still inside when I think about it.
April 17 finds us in Halifax, where many of Titanic’s dead are buried. We will visit the graveyard and museum.
On April 19, we will be in New York, icebergs not withstanding. I’ve never been to this city, so my day will be packed with touristy things. Then we head home!
I will post reports and pictures as often as I can throughout the trip. I’m very excited about sharing it with all of you.
Don’t forget: I’m giving away two copies of Shipbuilder in a Goodreads Giveaway. It runs through April 25, so hop over there and sign up!
There’s also a Shipbuilder quiz over at Goodreads. If you take the quiz, leave me a comment here telling me you took it. Everyone who lets me know they took the quiz will have a chance to win a copy of Shipbuilder.
So there are a busy few weeks coming up. Stay tuned!
This week, I started an experiment in advertising, by buying an ad on Goodreads. It’s one of those “self-serve” advertisements, something that Goodreads has in beta testing. I’m assuming that because the ads are “self-serve,” they are cheaper than “real” ads. They are also very basic, no-frills ads. I would have liked to have put up an attractive ad, perhaps with animation, but of course, that costs a lot more.
First, a disclaimer: I have a strong, general dislike of ads. I’ve never paid much attention to them, whether they were commercials on TV, radio spots, or ads in magazines. When I bring in the Sunday paper, my first step is to separate out all the ads/coupon stuff, and toss them into the recycle bin. I never even look at them.
Since our society effectively functions on advertising, I could almost be considered an enemy of the state. Without those advertisers, there probably would not BE a Sunday paper. Nevertheless, I remain ambivalent, if not downright hostile.
When I ran my own business, I learned early that buying advertising just gave money to the business creating and/or running the ad. The rudest and most belligerent salespeople were the admen, especially those in companies like Pennysaver or ValuePak.
In my experience, advertising only works when you pour thousands (and thousands) of dollars into it, over a long period of time. So, for instance, soft drink companies can saturate the world with ads. They could probably support entire countries with their advertising dollars. My little chef business? Not so much. Despite the fact that I ran ads in local magazines for up to two years (at $300 per quarter), not a single customer came through those ads. My customers came from my website and word of mouth, plus a few from the national association website.
So. Why the heck did I buy a GR ad for my book? I guess I’m ever hopeful. Actually my attitude is, “I can throw away $50 to give it a try, especially during the month of April, while there’s Titanic hype going on all over the world.”
I’ve also bought one ad on Kindleboards, to run on April 17. I’ll report on that one after the fact.
The GR ad has been running since Monday or Tuesday. It’s one of those “pay per click” ads, where I pay a set amount every time someone clicks on the ad. Goodreads sends me a daily report on how the ad is doing. Let me give you hard numbers:
So far, my ad has been viewed 4,062 times. I think this means that it has shown up that many times on people’s computer screens. There is no way to judge whether anybody actually saw the thing. If any of those people are like me, they didn’t.
In this time, there has been one (1) click on the ad. One. Don’t break the gates down, folks.
Slightly more heartening, is the statistic that 25 people have added the book to their To-Read list.
You might think I’m getting the best of everything here. I’ve only paid for one click, but have 25 prospective customers. I do like that. After all, it’s not the ad I want people to see. It’s the book.
But there’s a downside to no clicks. The ad appears more frequently the higher the number of clicks. If no one clicks on the ad, it may only appear a few times a day. This is a downward spiral to nothingness, and I’ve essentially just given Goodreads a donation. This is why I won’t throw hundreds or thousands of dollars into advertising. As I said earlier, the main beneficiary is always the ad company. In this case, that’s Goodreads.
So I’m watching how it goes. In the meantime, if you see the ad on Goodreads, please click on it, even if you have the book. You’ll be ensuring that someone else will see it, and I’d appreciate that. Oh, and let me know that you saw it. Feedback is always welcome!