How to Have a Wildly Successful Promotion that Still Loses Money

I promised an update after I ran my big promo, but it turns out that it takes a lot longer than I expected to fully quantify the return on investment. Let’s start by summarizing what we are dealing with:

  • Entropy is a trilogy of romance novels. The first was published in August 2015 and the last in March 2017.
  • Entropy has 55 reviews, averaging 4.5 stars on Amazon, and has proven fairly easy to sell if I can get people to its page on Amazon.
  • None of the books had sold more than a couple a month for the past few months.
  • All the books are in Kindle Unlimited.
  • I’ve never run a free book sale on any of these titles before. I have run $0.99 sales a couple times, and those did okay.

And here is what I did:

  • May 3-7, Entropy was free
  • May 4-10, Duality and Gravity were $0.99/£0.99
  • I tweeted several times a day about the sales, starting on May 3
  • I ran $423 worth of newsletter placements on May 4 (details here)

By any reasonable standard, the promotion was wildly successful:

  • 5,846 downloads of Entropy
  • Entropy hit #26 on the overall Amazon best-seller (free) list
  • Entropy remained in the top 100 free May 4-6
  • 118 downloads of two perma-free shorts I have on Amazon
  • 7 full-price ($4.99) purchases of books from the trilogy (before/after the sale)
  • 3 full-price ($2.99) purchases of my newest novel (not part of this promo at all)
  • 225 purchases of Duality & Gravity at $0.99/£0.99
  • 12,811 pages read in KU (so far)

In hindsight, it turns out I did some very smart things completely by accident. First, I set up the newsletter promos to be stacked on the second day of the sale. I did this because I wanted time to contact Amazon if the sale didn’t start on schedule. Of course, it did start on schedule because this isn’t Amazon’s first rodeo. So during that first day, I promoted it on Twitter. I expected a dozen downloads. I got 300. What that did was push my book up into the top 500 free books. Since Amazon takes history into account when computing bestseller ranks, being at this high level the day before my big promo let my book reach its peak bestseller rank much quicker than otherwise would have happened. I never expected to break into the top 100, much less go all the way to the second page (Amazon shows 20/page on the top 100 list). While I think category bestseller lists are completely pointless, getting into the overall list certainly would seem valuable on getting a virtuous cycle going.

The idea is that if you get a high rank, then people who are browsing for something to download might notice it in the list. That leads to more downloads, which takes you higher on the list, and so on. Did that happen? There’s literally no way to know, because Amazon won’t tell authors where their buyers come from.

Lesson 1: Start the deal a day early and promote for free on Twitter the day before your big newsletter promos drop

The next genius thing I did completely by accident was run the 99 cent sales on my second two books. My thinking was that a few people who grab the free book might actually read it right away (I firmly believe most people who download free books never read them). And if they like the first book, they might want the rest of the series. But since they are smart/frugal enough to wait for books to be free, the chances of them paying $4.99 for the sequel struck me as slim. I figured I’d have a much better chance of getting those readers if the book was as cheap as possible, hence the sale price. I started it a day later than the free day, figuring it’d take people at least a day to read the first one and want the second. My logic was completely wrong.

Very few people came back to get the second two books after reading the first. What people did was buy all three books at once! They came to grab a free book, saw that they could get all three for 1.98, and about 110 of them took the bait. If I had understood this dynamic, I would have had the 99 cent sales start on the same day as the free sale, so I could have grabbed a bunch of those first-day Twitter users’ money, too.

Lesson 2: Put other books in the series on sale for 99 cents when you make the first book free

The last thing that really surprised me is the KU behavior. If a person subscribes to KU, they don’t need to wait for a book to be free. They can read those books any time for free. So why would a free book deal draw KU readers to read the free book? I have no idea. But it does.

The pages read are clearly tapering off, but they still haven’t stopped. I suppose I’ll have a few slow readers keeping that chart busy for the rest of the month. The great thing about this phenomena is that even though the book was free, I still get paid for KU reads. Last month the rate was 0.448¢ per page. Assuming it’s close to that for May, those 12.8K pages read should earn me about $57.

Lesson 3: The boost in KU reads is significant and helps offset the cost of the promo

This brings us to the bottom line. I spent $423 on the promo. I earned $182 on sold books, and $57 on KU page reads, for a total of $239. My wildly successful promo left me $184 in the hole. Sigh.

At this point, most authors would congratulate themselves because of all the exposure or branding they got for that $184. Sorry, folks. That’s nonsense. I’m an independent author with 4 novels. I’m not a brand.

I did get one brilliant review on Goodreads. But I also got a couple one-star no-review ratings there, because people are jerks, I suppose.

Once those KU reads die out, the book will be exactly as dormant as it was before I ran this promotion. And that glimmer of hope I had that this might have a knock-on effect of getting new readers for my latest novel? Seems that’s not happening either. (I sold three copies during the promo, but I think that was just a coincidence because they happened right at the beginning.)

Would I do this again? Definitely not. It is a bad idea to pay people to read your books. But I might do something different. I might do the Entropy is free / Duality & Gravity are 99 cents thing in a few months, and look for ways to promote it that are more cost effective, for example.

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Chasing the “Big Bump”

For those of you who are new around here, let me catch you up. I’ve been writing novels for about three years. My first one was an erotic romance called Entropy, which has done pretty well for a first novel from an indie author who refuses to spend more on marketing than he makes on his writing. (I’ve sold about 400 copies of that one across all channels.) I followed that up with a sequel, Duality, and then finished out the trilogy with Gravity. The sales of the latter two books were not as robust, being sequels. It didn’t occur to me (particularly against the drumbeat of bloggers saying “You have to write a series!”), but sequels limit your audience to people who read the previous book. So while my sell-through rate (40%) is well above average, sequels are never going to be able to match the sales of the first book.

Having learned that lesson, my next novel was a genre-change. I wrote a standalone women’s fiction novel Apotheosis. It’s not erotic (in fact, there is no sex at all), and it sort of mashes up “Women’s Fiction” and “Hero’s Journey” plot lines to make something that should have a pretty broad appeal. That’s just been out a couple months and it is off to a decent start, selling about 50 copies so far across all channels. The reviews are outstanding. I’m having a heck of a time figuring out how to promote it, though. Twitter Ads, which have worked really well for me in the past, aren’t working at all for the new novel. Getting cheap clicks is working (particularly in the UK), but once they get to the page, they aren’t converting to readers at nearly the rate I saw with Entropy. No clue why.

So while I let that new book simmer, hoping it finds an audience on its own, I’ve temporarily turned my attention back to my original series. One thing I’ve never done is make a novel free. I have a couple short stories that I turned into e-books and made free, and although I’ve never spent a dime promoting them, they’ve managed to find about 1,800 readers on their own, just sitting there being free. The free shorts also include the first chapter of Entropy, as a teaser. As far as I can tell, that’s never led to any sales. But each short only took me a day or two to write, edit, and publish, so I don’t feel bad about not making anything back on them.

Despite that evidence that free is not a good strategy, along with my argument that authors should never pay people to read their books, I’m going to go ahead and do a free promo of Entropy. And I’m going to do it right. The book is in KDP Select (Amazon exclusive), so I can easily make it free for five days. And I’ve secured paid spots on a bunch of newsletters to promote the free day:

  • Book Sends: $180
  • Free Booksy: $100
  • Excite Spice: $40
  • Fussy Librarian: $30
  • eBook Betty: $25
  • Book Soda: $20
  • Book Raid: $20
  • Read Freely: $8

Yes, that is an eye-popping $423 I’m going to spend to promote a free book. I can guarantee I won’t get a direct return on my investment, since it’s free. There’s no royalties when it’s free. So without an ROI, why do it? Curiosity, mostly.

The conventional wisdom of doing a free promo is that you get The Big Bump. That is, after the promo is over, your sales go way up. I’ve never bought into this theory because it’s usually predicated on the idea that you get the bump because your bestseller rank goes up on Amazon. Except whenever I see authors talking about their bump, they point to their category rank. Having a high category rank does nothing. I proved this a long time ago (skip ahead to the word “delusional” in that post). If your overall book rank hit the top 10, as might happen if you get a coveted BookBub spot (which I can’t), that should cause a nice knock-on sales effect. But being in the top 10 of some sub-sub-subcategory helps nothing but your ego.

However, I recently read a blog post that had a much more plausible explanation of the bump: Also Boughts. Read that post for the details, but the gist is that if lots of people “buy” your free book, then your book is likely to show up on the pages of people who are browsing Amazon. We know the bump is real. Authors always talk about it as the reason to run free promos. And now that I have a reasonable explanation of it to hold on to, I’m finally ready to try one.

It’s scheduled for May 4, so I’ll do a follow-up after that with my results. Since I’m “stacking” all the newsletter ads together, I won’t have any way to tell which ones worked and which didn’t. But that’s a very solid list of well-respected performers (particularly the two expensive ones), so I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t do much better. (Within the constraints I have: ENT won’t run ads for Entropy because the cover lacks a bare-chested male model, and BookBub is just a big bunch of meanies.)

My predictions:

  1. I will get a lot of downloads. Let’s guess 4000
  2. I won’t make it to the top 10 overall bestseller list
  3. I will get a bump in my KU reads of all my books
  4. I will see some sales and KU reads of the sequels in a couple weeks
  5. I won’t come anywhere close to making my money back
  6. I will have a loss on my 2018 Schedule C for the first time as a result of this lunacy

 

Get a Free Novel when you Sign Up!

I have a new novel coming out soon, so I’ve decided it’s time to do a push to get people to sign up for my mailing list. I thought it might make sense to offer a free copy of my first novel as a way to entice people to sign up (and if they love it, they can buy the sequel and the sequel to the sequel).

But there’s a catch!

All three books are in KDP Select, so that Kindle Unlimited users can read them for free. Amazon has a rule that you cannot distribute books anywhere else if you want to be in that program. And that includes giving them away like this. So what I’ll do is if you sign up now, I’ll buy the book from Amazon and give it to you as a gift. I get my royalty on that, so it costs me almost nothing. I’ll pull Entropy out of the KDP Select program when my contract expires on January 8, so after that I can just email copies.

So let’s do this! Click here to sign up.

Mailchimp will send me a notification that you signed up, and I’ll send the Amazon gift code to that email address.

The Black Magic of Getting Your Book Tweet Right

I’ve been doing this book marketing thing for quite a while now, and one thing that I often need to help people with is getting their book link tweets right. I figured it’s time for me to put all my tricks in one place. This is that place.

“People click my link and it says the book isn’t available”

The problem here is that there isn’t just one Amazon. There are lots and lots of them. If you share a link to amazon.com, and someone in the UK looks at that link, they’ll see your book, but Amazon won’t let them buy it. They need to find your book at amazon.co.uk. But they aren’t going to do that, are they? It’s a minor miracle that you got them to click your link in the first place. No way they are going to go typing in a search to a different website to find your book in the right store. Not. Gonna. Happen.

The solution (which I’ve mentioned before) is to use mybook.to (there are other services, but I like this one best). It’s basically a link shortening service like bit.ly, but it is smart about geography and all those Amazon stores. It looks at where the person is clicking from, and sends them to the right place. Also, because they haven’t been around for 100 years like bit.ly, you can get pretty much whatever short link you want. I’ve never had any trouble getting the exact titles of my books as my short link.

Their links work for both Kindle and paperback books, so if you’re doing both, you’ll generate two links. These are the links I use:

When you set up the link you want to make sure that the Amazon link is like this:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/{ASIN or ISBN}
Be sure to use https (not http) and you don’t need your title in there. If you copy the link from Amazon, just delete the junk between .com and /dp and if there’s junk after the ASIN/ISBN, delete that, too. Obviously you should test the link to make sure you didn’t delete too much.

“I messed up and put in the wrong link, how do I fix it?”

After you create the link at mybook.to and you test it, if you find that you messed up and didn’t put the right link in there, you can fix it as follows:

  1. Delete the short link you created
  2. Create the link again, not making a mistake this time
  3. Go to this address mybook.to/clear-link-cache.php?url={your nickname} for example, if you created mybook.to/warandpeace you’d need to hit mybook.to/clear-link-cache.php?url=warandpeace

That’s not documented anywhere. The nice guy who administers the site told me that trick when he and I were debugging another problem which I’m about to tell you about.

“My tweet doesn’t have the preview of my book!”

So you’ve created your short link and tested it and it works great. Now you tweet it, but all that shows up is the short link, not the pretty cover and blurb and star rating from Amazon (known as a “Twitter Card”). Why is that?

This happens because when your book is brand new, Amazon doesn’t generate the right “meta tags” on the page for the Twitter card. No idea why, but it pretty much never does. So you have to hit the page over and over, and eventually it starts generating the right tags. But there’s a catch. Twitter saves the first version of that page it sees, so even once Amazon is generating the right meta tags, Twitter ignores them.

You can actually address both of these problems with one simple trick! There’s a tool that developers use to make sure their meta tags are good. You can use this tool to both force Amazon to re-generate the page, and to force Twitter to pay attention to the changes.

Go here: https://cards-dev.twitter.com/validator and enter the mybook.to link. Be sure to start with http, like http://mybook.to/warandpeace. If you forget the http, it won’t work, and the error message is confusing. Click the “Preview Card” button and you’ll either see a card, or you won’t. If you see the card, you’re done.

If you don’t see the card, count to ten and click preview card again. No card? Count to ten and click it again. You may have to do this many, many, many times. Trust me. This will eventually work. Once you see the card, you’re done. Go look at Twitter and you’ll see that the tweet which didn’t have the card, now suddenly does have the card.

“You didn’t answer my question!”

Ask in the comments. I can probably help.

Regrets is now Free

About a year ago I wrote a post in which I showed that nobody wants to read novellas, so there is no point writing them. And shortly after that I accidentally wrote a novella. It’s now a year later and despite having a dozen 5-star reviews on Amazon, including this downright amazing one, and having the low, low price of $0.99, I’ve only sold 43. That means I’ve made $15.05, which is my break-even point since I spent $14.95 on the stock photo of a keycard for the cover. I’m going to take that $0.10 profit and spend it on hookers and blow. BRB.

At least I’ve proved myself right. Nobody wants to read novellas.

I’ve decided to go ahead and make this story free. I popped over to Smashwords, which I use to get my ebooks onto everywhere except Amazon, and set the price to zero. Then I asked KDP Support (love them) to price-match on Amazon to make the price zero. That happened today, and I immediately got about 50 downloads. This was before I even told anyone I made it free. So maybe there’s some pent-up demand for five-star free smut, even if it’s just novella-length. (It isn’t even novella length. It’s like half-novella length at best. It’s more of a short story that went long.)

It’s not a bad piece of pulp, so if you haven’t read it yet, you should probably go ahead. It’ll only take you an hour. You can get it at Amazon and every other ebook retailer.

I have no illusions that this is going to lead to sell-through to my novels. I tried that already with my short story Attractions, and despite that also being really, really good, and having a teaser from my novel in there and everything, it’s led to no sales to speak of. Across all channels I’ve given away over 1000 copies of Attractions and it’s yielded bupkis. So no, I’m not making Regrets free to draw in readers for the Entropy trilogy. I’m making it free because it’s not selling anyway, so why the hell not make it free?

I hope you enjoy it! Leave more 5-star reviews!

The Entropy Soundtrack

Can a novel series have a soundtrack?

Can a novel series have a soundtrack? I mean, movies get soundtracks, right? Why not books?

The male protagonist in my novel series (Entropy) is an amateur jazz pianist, somewhat of a jazz history expert, and a dancer. So naturally, music plays a big part in his stories. I decided to comb through all three novels and put together a comprehensive list of all the song references. Then I created a Spotify playlist which I’m calling the Entropy Soundtrack. Fun, right?

It’s mostly jazz, but because the last book—Gravity—includes two weddings, there are also a couple oddball things you might not expect. But all soundtracks are like that, I think: 80% songs that kind of fit together and 20% songs that are totally weird and out of place.

Go check it out. I dropped a link to this list to a few of my beta readers (once you beta read for me, you beta everything for life), and the consensus is that it’s a pretty awesome list. Here’s the link again: bit.ly/entropy-music

Goodreads Gravity Giveaway!

We are getting closer and closer to launch of my next novel! I’ve reviewed the print proof, got the last of the beta reader fixes in, and submitted what I hope are the last of the changes to CreateSpace and KDP.

Next up is running a giveaway on Goodreads, which started today and ends on launch day, March 28. Please click here to enter. I’ll wait.

The reason I run a Goodreads giveaway is simple: It’ll get my book on the “to read” shelf of several hundred people. Will they read it? Nope. The people who enter these things have literally thousands of books on their “to read” shelf. So why bother? Because when you look at the book page, it’ll have lots and lots of activity with all those people adding it to their “to read” list. I believe that when people stumble across the book page, they’ll see all that activity and assume this is a “real” book, not just some random self-published vanity project.

To maximize the numbers, I run my giveaways globally. US-only giveaways are a lot cheaper because you can ship the book anywhere in the US for just $3. If someone outside the US wins this, it may cost me upward of $25 to send the book. Maybe more if it’s someplace particularly remote. And the winner will probably be international, because that’s the bulk of the people who will enter. The US-only giveaway market is crowded. There are tons of them going on all the time. But fully international ones are more rare, so my book will be among the few those folks see available.

Seriously, please go enter. And good luck!

Authoring Milestones and Other Numbers

I have a big spreadsheet where I keep track of all the numbers that define my fledgling career as an author. I pull reports from Amazon and other places periodically to keep it all up to date. Today I did that and I found I had passed two milestones:

  • 500 books sold
  • $1000 in royalties

(For context, my first novel was published about 18 months ago. Since then I’ve added a free short story, a $0.99 novella, and a second novel. A third novel will be launched at the end of this month.)

By “sold” I mean someone actually paid money for the book. I have a short story that I give away for free, and I recently let Smashwords run a free promo of my novella. I’m not counting those. (That would add just over 600 more to the total.)

And by royalties, I mean the gross royalties I’ve received. Other than $15 here and there for a stock photo or a print proof, I don’t have any other costs to pay back, because I do my own editing (with a lot of help from author friends), promotion, etc. In round numbers that $1000 breaks down to:

  • $300 in the bank
  • $100 in stock photos and proof copies
  • $300 in Twitter ads that generated $200 in royalties
  • $100 in promotions that were probably worth it:
    • Goodreads Giveaways to make my book look popular
    • Amazon Giveaways to build a following on Amazon
    • A Fussy Librarian promo of the free short story Attractions to reach new readers
  • $200 in “learning experiences”:
    • BookBub ads don’t work
    • Only US/UK/CA people will buy my books
    • Buying ads to promote $0.99 sales is pointless

There are some other interesting numbers in that spreadsheet. In terms of units sold, my channels break down:

  • Print: 9%
  • Kindle Sales: 69%
  • Kindle Unlimited Reads: 18%
  • Signed Copies: 4%

However, the royalties tell a slightly different story:

  • Print: 9%
  • Kindle Sales: 62%
  • Kindle Unlimited Reads: 17%
  • Signed copies: 12%

Signed copies are a pain, of course, but the margins are a lot better because Amazon isn’t getting a cut. I charge $18 which includes shipping in the US. That’s only $5 more than my paperback goes for on Amazon, and probably the same net cost to the buyer unless they have Amazon Prime. (Send me a Twitter DM if you want a signed copy of any of my novels.)

Another interesting metric on that spreadsheet is my sell-through rate. That is, what percentage of people who read Entropy go on to read Duality. It’s a little tricky because I’m mostly interested in people who just read Entropy going on to read Duality, not people who read Entropy a long time ago. So what I do is look at gross sales of each, but only starting a couple months after Duality had been released. Using that approach, my sell-through rate is 32% and that number has been consistent for the past few months. So a third of the people who buy the first novel choose to read the sequel. I have no idea if that’s good or bad by industry standards, but that’s my number.

One last number that I like to watch is my average net royalty. This is the $300 that actually made it into my bank account divided by the 500 books I sold, so 60 cents. (Actually it’s 64 cents right now when you use the actual numbers, not the rounded off ones.) This has been steadily dropping since I launched, which makes sense because I have lowered my prices over time and a lot of my Entropy sales are a direct result of Twitter ads, which I try to keep at break-even, but sometimes don’t quite make it. The “learning experiences” I mentioned above that didn’t sell any books also drag this down. Without those it would be about a buck.

My next novel launches in a couple weeks, and it’ll be interesting to watch how it impacts everything. Even though it is the third and final of the series, the new book actually makes a good stand-alone read. So unlike Duality, which I couldn’t market on its own, I am going to do some marketing of Gravity by itself. If it works, that could generate sell-through back to the earlier books, as people want to get to know the characters better. Time will tell.

Gravity Launch Plan

Gravity, the third and final novel in the Entropy series has survived my beta readers. All but one of them loved it, which is par for the course. The one who didn’t like it had issues with the story line, not the writing, which I’m okay with. Here is a tremendously helpful quote from Stephen King (whose writing I alternately love and hate, depending on the book, but who I admire very much as an author). I re-read it every time I send something out for beta reading…

The best beta feedback I get is the “hey, he forgot to take off his pants” or “you just used that exact phrase two paragraphs ago.” Along with the perennial, “would you please fucking learn to use commas correctly?”

Anyway, that one hater hasn’t derailed me, and so with all the pants removed and redundancies sorted, a final copy has gone to my printer, CreateSpace. They will have a gorgeous paperback proof copy in my hot little hands next week. Actually, I ordered two, so I have one to give away on Goodreads. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

I’ve picked a launch date of March 28. There is a lot to do before that, and I thought it might be fun for you to see it all laid out. I’ve launched novels twice now, so I have a pretty set procedure.

  • Receive the print proof. Start proofreading when I can find time, but do that in parallel with all the other stuff I’m about to list, none of which requires that my text be final.
  • Publish on CreateSpace, then immediately pull it from all channels. This creates a page on Amazon.com for the print version. (See this post for an explanation of why we do this.)
  • Make the Kindle version, and upload that to KDP. Publish it for pre-order, with a launch date of March 28.
  • Ask KDP support to link the Kindle and Print versions on Amazon.com.
  • Set up shortcuts at mybook.to for both versions.
  • Set up pages on Goodreads and Librarything for the new book.
  • Schedule a Gooodreads international giveaway of that extra proof copy.
  • Send my beta readers a link to the Amazon page so they can post reviews.
  • Draft a couple ARC (advance review copy) reviewers who write those crazy reviews on Goodreads with all the animated GIFs.
  • Send out ARCs to folks who have reviewed my previous books on their blogs.
  • Finish proofreading the paperback and update the print and Kindle versions as needed.
  • Update the back matter on Duality Kindle edition to include a link to Gravity.
  • Order a dozen copies of the final book, for signed sales.
  • Make pull-quote graphics for Twitter? I don’t know. I didn’t get any traction from these for Duality, so I might not bother with them this time.
  • Send a note to my mailing list announcing that the Kindle version is available for preorder, and telling them how to get signed copies if they want.
  • Gently remind my beta readers that I really need them to post that review.
  • Send the proof to whoever won the Goodreads giveaway.
  • Tweet about Kindle preorder.
  • Run a Twitter Ad campaign and tweet a lot on launch day.

Did I miss anything? I’ve never been a fan of the online launch party, or the “blog tour.” After all this is done, I’ll be focusing on awareness on Twitter, making sure everyone who read the first two books knows the new book is out. (I still find followers on Twitter every day who don’t know I’m an author. It boggles the mind.)

Gravity Title, Cover, and Blurb Reveal!

You might be aware that I’ve been working on the third novel in the Entropy series. Entropy was supposed to be a standalone novel. But my readers complained that I left it on too much of a cliffhanger (I totally didn’t). I finally gave in and wrote Duality. That was definitely the end of things. Nowhere to go from there.

Then NaNoWriMo rolled around and all the authors on Twitter were writing about writing. And I started to get the itch to maybe do something. Not write a novel in a month. That’s bonkers. But to maybe work on a new novel. I talked to a bunch of my writer friends about what I should do, but I wasn’t making any progress. That’s when my buddy Vania piped up and said I was blocked thinking of something to write about because the Lisa & Sir story wasn’t finished. I had to write another in the series. Vania is the absolute worst. Because she was right, of course.

And so I went ahead and wrote another novel. I used the same process I used for the first two, which is a sure-fire way to get a novel done in about 100 days. (You write 1% of it a day. You can do the rest of the math yourself, I guess.) I finished it this past weekend, and it is in the hands of my beta readers now.

If you look at the first two titles (Entropy and Duality) you will notice they are both from the Jeopardy! category 7 letter science words ending in y. So obviously, I had to choose another one of those for this book. I wrote a program that generated the list of 1,367 words ending in y with 7 letters. Then I wrote another program to sort them alphabetically backward (ending in ay, by, cy, etc.). That made it easier to scan the list, and I culled it to this list of 20 words that fit the bill:

fallacy primacy cogency urgency prosody synergy theurgy alchemy destiny euphony harmony mystery roguery rivalry fantasy ecstasy impiety satiety clarity tenuity gravity ataraxy

There are some great titles in there, but only one that is a real science word. Gravity.

I figured that out shortly after I started writing, so I was able to work various references to gravity (both meanings) into the story. Here’s the blurb (I used the formula I explained here):

A chance meeting brings Sir and Lisa together after five years. But Sir is in a budding relationship and Lisa’s life is in chaos. Could a radical change in Sir’s situation finally let things work between them? Gravity is a complex and moving exploration of the turmoil older people face bringing romance and commitment back to single life.

Main points I’m getting across: we are going to try to get the band back together and they are “older” (a euphemism for mid-fifties). Nobody writes erotic romance novels around people in that decade of life, so that’s a distinguishing thing about this book.

All that’s left is the cover:

Full wrap cover

Full wrap cover

This carries a lot of design elements from my other covers, which you can look at on my Amazon author page if you like. There is a ton of symbolism going on here, as you would expect. I’ll do my best not to give away any spoilers as I explain it…

Starting on the back, we have a feather. That’s a literal reference to something said in the book, and also the falling feather is a common visual metaphor for gravity. Up front we have two pool balls. There’s another gravity reference there, as they are a little like planets. But more than that, the fact there are two is significant. Entropy had two flowers. Duality (ironically) went to a sole glass, representing how that story was more centered on Sir. Now we are back to two, as we try to get the couple reunited.

The pool balls are touching, which is a hopeful sign. And to me, it looks like the cue ball is a little bigger, dominating the 8 ball—again, representing our main protagonists. It goes without saying that billiards is a literal thing that happens in the story. And here’s one subtle thing: in the game “8 Ball” (which is what most American’s play) you sink the 8 ball last. So we have the cue ball meeting up with what we hope is the last ball it’s ever going to touch.

I’ll get the beta feedback soon, do my final edits, then get a print proof from CreateSpace and read it on paper. So it feels like we are 3-4 weeks from launch. I’ll keep you posted.