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the covers of all the books in the SFWA Take No Prisoners StoryBundle

Take No Prisoners!

I’m delighted to announced that A Lonely Magic has been included in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Association’s “Take No Prisoners” StoryBundle, available now until August 17th, 2023.


So, obviously, if you’re reading this post, you probably don’t need to buy A Lonely Magic, since the chance that you haven’t picked it up somewhere along the way or at least read it via KU feels remote to me.


BUT! There are 12 other books in the bundle and somewhere along the way, someone in the powers-that-be at StoryBundle and the SFWA decided that these books have enough in common that they belonged together. Ergo, if you liked A Lonely Magic, maybe you’ll like some or all of them, too.


And for $20 for a dozen books, (13, really , including the one I think you already read), it’s a good deal for some fun summer reading.


Here’s the deal:

For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the core bundle of four books in any ebook format available:

  • Shadows of Insurrection by Vanessa McClaren-Wray
  • The Ring and the Flag by William L. Hahn
  • She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much by S.R. Cronin
  • Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn by Danielle Ackley-McPhail & Day Al-Mohamed

If you’re willing to spend $20, you’ll get all four of the core books, plus these NINE additional books, for a total of thirteen.

  • A Lonely Magic by S.J. Wynde
  • Duster by Adam Stemple
  • In Veritas by C.J. Lavigne
  • Metropolitan by Walter Jon Williams
  • No Demons But Us by A.S. Etaski
  • Sasharia en Garde by Sherwood Smith
  • The Runemaster Homicide by Dan Jolley
  • The Stones of Resurrection by Tameri Etherton
  • Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse by Jay Veleso Batista


I hope you’ll give the bundle a try. I’m trying not to read anything new right now — I want to finish at least one of the many projects I’m working on, before I get lost in some other author’s world — but I’m looking forward to rewarding myself for my efforts with a fantasy binge someday very soon!

Entering Summer

Yesterday I set up goals for myself in my file for the book tentatively called A Gift of Sight, but maybe changing to A Gift of Touch. Probably, in fact, changing to A Gift of Touch. I’ve just started writing it really, the past couple of months having been filled with other distractions, including pet-sitting and a ten-day trip to Florida, but I think Touch is probably a lot more apt than Sight is. My cover idea (sunglasses) will just have to get saved for some future book.

At any rate, I’m 2000 words or so into the book and it’s already heading in unexpected but interesting directions, so I’m looking forward to this discovery draft. Also reminding myself that it’s a discovery draft, so it’s allowed to meander for a while.

My ambitious goals have me finishing the project by the end of July, which one part of me thinks is perfectly feasible — two months to write a fun, straightforward story ought to be completely achievable — while another part of me rolls my eyes. Sure, it ought to be achievable, but… well, I think I need to stick with visualizing success, so I will be visualizing success.

I’m also working on lots of other things, however, including some experimentation with BookBub ads, some more time revising covers, some audiobook work (A Gift of Time should show up any day) and some editing for a friend. I am not going to be too hard on myself when I don’t get it all done. But I am going to try to stay focused. Posting regular updates to this blog and developing a mailing list/newsletter are so aspirational for me — I’ve been trying to do both for years, with no success! — but one step at a time, right?

And now back to work.


Quick numbers update

A quick update (because I currently have COVID and am going back to bed in the very near future):

One month after publication, I’ve earned $828.30 from A Gift of Luck.

For perspective, A Precarious Magic‘s lifetime # is $1,088.74, and Practicing Happiness‘s lifetime number is $1,747.19. So not bad.

But for further perspective, I earned $2,664.34 from A Gift of Grace in its first month of release. So not good, either. So it goes.

Watching the numbers, I also can’t tell whether the free day aligned with the BookBub notification did much of anything: the very next day was up slightly (15 copies sold), but all subsequent days were under five copies. I probably would not run that experiment again. Remember that, self! But I do want to experiment with free days and advertising.

Someday. Real soon now. Probably after I recover from COVID, though.


A BookBub Experiment

BookBub is a book advertising site that sends out emails to readers every day. It’s famous among the independently-published world as being the only sure thing for ads: if you can get a Featured Deal on BookBub (easier said than done), it’s guaranteed to be successful (in terms of earning you more money than you’ve spent.) The ads are expensive, though, and it’s tough to get a featured deal. I’m not sure how many books they accept, but in February 2021, they said they get an average of 300 book submissions per day and accept only a small percentage. They list 42 genres, some of which probably don’t get daily submissions, some of which are probably insanely competitive (ie, romance), but assume about a 10-15% acceptance rate.

But that’s the Featured Deals. BookBub also does pre-order alerts, where you can send a notification of your book ahead of time to people who follow your author profile on the site; as well as purchased ads that go out at the bottom of their emails. I’ve tried both of those things, with not much success. The ads especially felt like throwing money into a black hole, but the pre-order sales on A Gift of Grace cost me $4/book. (In other words, I was paying readers to buy it, since I don’t earn that much per book.)

BookBub will also send out a notification to your followers when you release a book, if you let them know about the book within the week of publication. I just slipped under the wire; I got the notification on Friday that they would send that email out on Saturday. One day’s notice. Hmm… I wondered if I could measure the success — clickthrough rate — of that email. It’s spent specifically to people who have followed my author profile, so it ought to be an interested audience. But BookBub readers seem to me to be extremely price-sensitive: they like cheap books. And they like free books.

So what if Luck was free? That ought to tell me how many people clicked through because if someone is interested enough to click, they’re probably willing to pick up the book when it costs them nothing, even if they’re not totally sold on the description. Interested enough to follow me, interested enough to click on an email, interested enough to read for free. Doesn’t that make sense?

On a financial level, giving away a lot of books doesn’t make sense for me, but I was curious enough to try the experiment. So, according to my email from BookBub, I have 7322 followers in the US, all of whom were going to get a notification of my new book. The notification is very straightforward: it’s titled “New Release from Sarah Wynde” and include the book description, a button to Save to Wishlist, and an Amazon button.

I used my Kindle Unlimited free days to set Luck to be free for one day only. When the BookBub new release email arrived at 2:30 PM my time, I’d already given away 62 copies of Luck. Its sales rank was 1208, #76 in Cozy Mystery Free (no other lists, annoyingly enough). When I went to bed around 10PM, the sales rank was 545, #43 in Cozy Mystery.

a screenshot of the sales rank

I gave away 206 copies total, so 144 of them after the notification came out. If the notification email had a 3% clickthrough rate, I could have expected a total of 219 copies downloaded. 2% would be 146, so it was probably pretty close to a 2% clickthrough rate. That’s… well… I’ve certainly been told that email marketing is the way to go, the only successful strategy, and that a good mailing list is the best tool in a writer’s sales toolbox, but there is an effort/cost/time to reward ratio that just doesn’t make sense to me. The biggest, most successful, book advertising email in the world + FREE was decidedly unimpressive.

My little experiment obviously cost me something, too: potentially up to $600 if you believe that all of those people might have bought the book. But I don’t think that all those people would have bought it — I’d bet it’s more like a $60 expense. The one possible virtue of that expense is that Luck might appear in more Also Bought lists, so I’ll also watch sales this week and see if they’re any better than they were last week. That should also give me some insight into whether it might be worth using my KU Free days on some of the other books, possibly including paying for some ads. Fundamentally, of course, I believe that I am best served by working on my next book, but it’s not like I can do that ten hours/day. Well, maybe I could, but I’m not sure the words would be any good if I did.

Anyway, in conclusion, I don’t regret the experiment, but I’m unimpressed by the numbers.

One week post publication

I did nothing for the release of A Gift of Luck, except announce it on my blog (which cross-posts to a Facebook page for Sarah Wynde, plus links to Twitter and Tumblr, none of which I actively use anymore), and then send a message to my mailing list a few days later.

Results have been, well… lukewarm? As one might expect, I guess.

Over the first four days, I sold 26 ebooks and 2 paperbacks.

My email to my  mailing list (currently with 886 recipients) generated better results: it had an open rate of 51.7% and a clickthrough rate of 17.01%, and over the next three days, 90 ebooks and 3 paperbacks sold. It also generated several nice emails from readers, which was awesome. I’m so unenthusiastic about marketing, but getting delighted responses to a marketing email felt terrific.

This morning was the first negative rating which felt less terrific, but inevitable. But currently Luck has 19 ratings on Amazon, including 5 with reviews. One is a 2-star, six are 4-star, and the remaining 12 are 5-stars. I haven’t previously recorded # of ratings/reviews in the first week or average rating, so I don’t know whether this is par for the course or not, but the average is 4.5, which is slightly lower than the averages of my last two books. And still fine.

The royalties estimator suggests that I’ve earned $482.43.  ($58.61 of which comes from KU pages read.) I ought to start calculating hours spent on a book, so that I could figure out my hourly rate, but I suspect I’d have to have an entirely different personality type to actually do that — less INFP, more SJT. I doubt it’s $1/hour yet, but book sales can trickle along for a long time, so maybe someday I’ll achieve minimum wage. Or not. I definitely haven’t on some of the other books, including ones that have been out for years. Even Cici, which I wrote quickly, hasn’t hit minimum wage levels. On the other hand, Thought definitely has, so maybe I need to give myself another decade or so before doing the math.

I might also have missed my opportunity to have BookBub send out an email to my followers there, which would be a pity if so. I looked yesterday, wondering why they hadn’t sent it, and apparently you have to notify them within a week of publication. I thought it was automatically generated. (And am kind of surprised that it’s not, tbh.) But I did the notification and I think I should have had a day left, so maybe that will happen. BookBub buyers are very price-sensitive, though, so I’m not counting on much either way.

The highest sales rank it reached, according to the sales ranks on Author Central, was 5724. It gave me a chance for this screenshot:

bestseller list screenshot
The Ghosts bestseller list, where I get to see my book almost next to Stephen King. Almost!

Moving on: Serena’s book found the obvious title, A Gift of Sight. And I think the cover might have sunglasses on it. And I know that the Monday appointment is with a realtor. I might even know the opening line. Hmm, no, apparently I don’t. But maybe I’ll find it today. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with revenge.

Updated to add: Serena’s revenge was hot, radiant with spite.


Published: A Gift of Luck

Cross-posted at


Late last night, I realized it was St. Patrick’s Day and I’d just missed a fun opportunity to publish my book about luck on a holiday related to luck. Drat! If I’d been the kind of organized author who thought ahead two weeks… but I wasn’t. The only thing holding me up, though, was working on keywords and a book cover for the print edition, so I decided to go for it. Voila! (That cover is a link to the book on Amazon, I hope.)

I spent a fair amount of time this week reading current advice for marketing self-published books. How to do a book launch, where to advertise, how to build a network of supporters with advanced review copies, etc, etc. Promotions, blog reviews, proper use of a mailing list, pre-orders, all that kind of thing.

I should have done all of it before I published, of course, but I didn’t. Or maybe that should be, “I should have done all of it before I published, but I didn’t, of course.” Ha. What a difference moving a couple words makes.

I’m probably not going to do any of it now, either. Do I lack ambition? Faith in my work? Drive? Maybe. Maybe all of the above. But really, I think my fundamental problem as an indie author is that I write too slowly, and I think I need to work on that problem more than I need to work on marketing a single book. Every minute spent trying to sell Luck is a minute not spent writing the next book. So Luck is published, and I will probably try to let my mailing list know about it sometime within the next couple of weeks* and otherwise, I’m just going to move on to the next thing.

*My mailing list software is doing a big upgrade next week, I believe, and I’d rather re-learn the software as it will be, rather than re-learning it as it will no longer be.

What is the next thing? I don’t know! Not for sure. But it might involve a character named Serena, who has a minor but entertaining role in A Gift of Luck. Meanwhile, I hope you read Luck, I hope you enjoy Luck, I hope you review Luck! (It’s exclusive to Amazon right now and in Kindle Unlimited, so if you’re a KU person, it’ll be free to read. I haven’t seen the print edition yet — obviously, given that I finished the print cover at about 10PM last night — but it’s also available as a paperback.)

A Gift of Luck

Cross-posted from, because I’m lazy. Also trying to keep publishing info here, but life info there, and this is a bit of both…

Here’s the current book description for A Gift of Luck. I was going to claim that it was the one and only thing I accomplished this week, but actually that’s totally not true. I also did some editing, sent links to some beta readers, and moved out of my tiny house. (Temporarily on the last, but it still involved packing up all of my possessions and shifting them from one place to another.)

Anyway, comments are welcome! I hate writing these things, but my strategy for this one was apparently to discuss it with everyone willing to listen as I looked for the words that resonated, both with them and with me once I said them aloud. Escape & surprise, that’s what resonated. 🙂


Running away was a mistake. Getting lost was magic. 

  • Rule #1 of running away: check the weather.
  • Rule #2: bring a map.
  • Rule #3: get your car a tune-up before you leave home.

Laurel Moreland’s great escape isn’t going as planned. Florida drivers are crazy; the Florida weather is not what she anticipated; and the mysterious orange symbol on her dashboard feels like doom. But when she stops in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town hoping to find a mechanic, her adventure takes a turn for the better.

Tassamara, the town, is full of secrets and surprises, starting with the crowds at the restaurant, a startling invitation or two, and a very appealing guy.

Niall Blake’s vacation is also not going as planned. With an engagement ring burning a hole in his pocket and a strained relationship with his twin brother to repair, the last thing he expected to be distracted by was a mysterious woman. What is Laurel running away from? Why won’t she tell him? And how can he help her?

Return to Tassamara in A Gift of Luck, a short, stand-alone novel with some familiar characters. It takes place after the events of A Gift of Grace, so includes spoilers for the previous books in the Tassamara series, but can be read without reading the others.

*A little bit of a ghost story, a little bit of a mystery, and lot of a romance.*


I’m debating next steps. If I wanted to pay for a pre-order ad from BookBub (around $200), I should post it today, apply for the ad, and then wait two weeks. But I went back and checked how that did in 2018 when I released my last Tassamara book (oh, how time flies) and the sales I got from it were negligible. $4/sale is what I calculated, which meant taking a loss on the ad. So yay me for including that data for myself and I will probably not be doing that.

I tried to talk myself into spending the next couple of weeks working on marketing: first looking at each book, making sure that its presentation was as polished as could be, rewriting some blurbs (Sia Mara doesn’t sell at all, so working on those blurbs might help), creating Amazon A+ content for all of them, creating an advertising plan that would maximize my never-used sale opportunities from Kindle Unlimited, aka free days and discounting… and then I downloaded approximately 20 books from Amazon, mostly from Kindle Unlimited, and read them all, one after another, on a gigantic binge of escaping from reality.

(11 books by K.M. Shea, of which The Court of Midnight and Deception series was by far my favorite; everything I could find by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, who is actually dramatically worse than me at marketing, judging by the fact that her author page doesn’t list the majority of her books and her covers are abysmal; three books by Delia Marshall Turner, which are delightfully weird and cheap enough that I was willing to buy them even though they weren’t in KU; and finally Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls, by Jane Lindskold, which is a book I loved almost 30 years ago and was delighted to re-discover. That one was interesting to reread, but my 2022 self found the level of casual sexual violence in it — not explicit, but clearly stated — hard to take. The “good guys” prostitute children but hey, are free from societal oppression. Um, nope. Nope, nope, nope. And how was my 1994 self not revolted by that?) All those links are probably affiliate links, so if you buy something on Amazon from one of them, I might get 4% of the purchase price. Yay, pennies! But I was reminded of the virtues of affiliate links because my own book purchases came from Rachel Neumeier’s blog, and I felt like she deserved her pennies, too.

Hmm, I feel like I’ve gotten very distracted from the point of this blog post. Which was what, exactly? Oh, right, what I’m doing with A Gift of Luck. Well, probably tweaking that description a few hundred more times while I wait for a couple more beta readers to tell me what questions they have, then reading the whole thing aloud (always fun), and then maybe releasing it. So, maybe this week? I’m hoping that the work on the tiny house will be done on Thursday or Friday, letting me move back in on the weekend. Maybe I’ll aim to finish before then, so my fresh start in the tiny house can also be a fresh start on my next book. Doesn’t that sound fun?

Practicing Happiness Release Update

This amused me. Pleased me, too, of course, because #1 New Release is a lovely thing to have on a book page. I must admit, however, that those are obviously really easy categories in which to get a #1 New Release. Total sales are currently 54 on Amazon, 3 on other sites, with a grand total of 5 sales in the past week.

So what did I do to get those 54 sales? Posted on Facebook, even though I’m trying to get Facebook out of my life. Can’t say how many sales come from that, but at least 10-12, I would expect. Probably the first 10 sales.

I also emailed my mailing list, which currently has 904 members. (This was after some ruthless culling: anyone who hadn’t opened four or more emails in a row got booted, even if I recognized the email address as being someone I’d communicated with in the past or knew from real life.) I got a fantastic 49.66% open rate, (industry average is about 22%, according to mailchimp) and a more typical 5.03% click rate, but with high bounce rates (1.11%) and unsubscribe (1%) rates.

I’m not concerned about either of those things — I don’t use my mailing list often enough to keep everyone active and I’m sure there were people on it who didn’t even recognize my name. That’s what happens to me with mailing lists, anyway. Also, the world has too much email and we should all unsubscribe from lists that don’t interest us. Anyway, if all of those clicks were sales, which I am sure they were not, it would have been about 45 copies. I’d guess, though, that maybe 15 – 20 sales came from the mailing list, based on the dates of sales.

On March 2, BookBub sent an email to my US followers on that platform: currently somewhere around 7,200 people. If 1% of those people were purchasers, I’d have a lot more sales than I currently do, so I’m guessing I didn’t get much in the way of sales from that. That’s not surprising, though, since BookBub buyers are price-sensitive buyers and PH is currently priced at $7.99.

(Why so high? Because of the images: Amazon is charging me a lot more for the download of the book, but with very vague approximations of how much exactly that is. It could be anywhere from $0.75 to $3, so until I know for sure, I wanted to price the book so that I’d be earning at least a couple dollars per sale. The market for camping books is substantially smaller than the market for romances. Although possibly not smaller than the market for SF-fantasy, tough to say for sure. And the memoir market is great, but inundated, tough to break through the noise there, so not something I can count on.)

To the best of my knowledge, Amazon has not emailed my followers on their platform. I’m basing this on the fact that I follow myself and I haven’t seen an email. It’s possible that they will do so in a few weeks, also possible that they never will. In the black box that is Amazon, one never knows what will happen.

I haven’t done any other advertising or marketing. I don’t know whether I will or not: at the moment there’s not much social proof that the book is worth buying (aka actual reviews), so maybe if and when there is, I’ll consider looking for promotional opportunities. Meanwhile, though, I’m just going to move on to the next book. Right now, that seems to be a Cici sequel, but I have a couple covers that I made that I love so much that I really want to write the book/story that go with them. Talk about backwards writing! And there’s a funny Tassamara story that keeps creeping into my writing time.

Meanwhile, today is a sunny day — although brisk! — and I’m going to take advantage by borrowing Suzanne’s dog and going for a walk.

Practicing Happiness: A Memoir of Van Life

So, I did a thing.

I quite like the thing, actually. I never pictured myself writing non-fiction, and definitely not non-fiction about myself. But I was trying to turn my blog — all fifteen years of it — into something that I could easily save. It wound up being easiest to make ebooks with Vellum, many of them. I thought at first three, then I thought maybe seven, because I wrote a lot of words in those fifteen years.

But while I was fixing formatting and cutting the boring posts, the ones I don’t care about now and won’t care about 20 years from now, suddenly I found myself writing a book. I became quite obsessed for a while, waking up at dawn and starting to work, stopping at 11 PM.

My life in Serenity, my camper van, lasted for four years. What was important about those years? What mattered most? What did I learn? What would I want to tell someone else, someone who was dreaming about life on the road?

It was sort of amazing to trace my own evolution through those years. The day after the first time I camped in a parking lot, I wrote, “I have never felt more Woman Traveling Alone than when I was awake at 3AM with street lights shining in my windows. I’m not sure I can relax enough to start enjoying your average Walmart parking lot anytime soon.”

Three years later, I was writing about the differences between street camping and parking lot camping, giving the win to parking lots, without even remembering that once upon a time, parking lot camping was scary.

Anyway, it was fun to write/edit, and I hope that it’s fun to read.

Practicing Happiness: A Memoir of Van Life

April 2020 update

Following up on the ad I ran on February 18th, I sold 21 copies of A Precarious Magic in March, after 15 in February. So my $15 in advertising might have earned me six sales. (Of the 15 sales in Feb, 9 were pre-ad and 6 were post.) That said, March 2020 was a month when people were distracted by events in the world, including me.

I think if there’s any takeaway for me, it’s that A Lonely Magic is not getting much read through. I’ve given away approximately 800 copies in 2020, and sold 67 copies of APM, so if people are finishing it, most of them are not going on to buy A Precarious Magic. Although that said, Kindlepreneur says that average read through with a free book starter is likely to be 3-6%, and 67 books sold would put me at 8%. Hmm, I guess that’s comforting. Sort of?

Moving on, the sales ranks of both my free books have plummeted. I’m trying not to pay attention, because, hey, worldwide pandemic, people with much greater problems out there, but ALM’s sales rank has dropped below 10,000 consistently and Ghosts is now in the 5000 range more often than not. I could blame lots of things, but I think I’m just going report it for the sake of my future reference and try not to worry about it. But it does say that the old covers are not the miracle workers I’d hoped they were.

I did not revise the blurbs as intended. (I did travel cross-country in the midst of a pandemic, so, yeah, giving myself a break on my lack of productivity.) I also have failed to follow up on my newsletters. (Ditto, pandemic.) For April — well, you know, I think April 2020 is going to be the most carpe diem month for my business that I have ever had. I am going to write words and try not to watch the news obsessively and cook delicious meals and hopefully eat some gluten-free cupcakes and enjoy some sunshine and the company of many dogs and cats. I’ll check in again on May 1 and see how the business of publishing is treating me.