Over the past few weeks, I have been doing a great deal of pondering over the subjects of promotion and advertising. (To catch up, you can read my Guild of Dreams posts here, here and here). Now, I am like most indie authors…I don’t really like the promotion side of what I do–I would much rather be writing and editing–but I also see it as a necessary evil. Let’s face it, when you’re a guy supporting a family of four as a full-time writer, you’ve got to pay some attention.
During my time looking at different venues for advertising and promotion, I have also come upon other ways of creating interest and generating sales, two of which I plan to undertake…but I can’t do it alone. I’m not looking for help per se (at least, I don’t think I am), but definitely contributors. Here’s what’s up:
1. A collection of fantasy novels.
Recently, a group of eight authors put out a collection called To Die For with the intent of helping new readers discover their work and using the power of the group to promote the collection (read a little bit more about it here on GalleyCat). I would like to do a similar thing with other writers in the fantasy genre, so I am looking for 7 or 8 authors like myself who self-publish fantasy. Any sub-genre of fantasy is fine, in fact I think a bit of a mix would be good, but for it to be worth each contributor’s time, you should have a minimum of three books out, either in a series or all fantasy, at the very least. I would also require that the average rating of the book be a minimum of 4 stars. Other than providing your formatted book, the only thing I will require from any participants is a willingness to promote the collection any way they can.
Cost? Nothing. I will pay for any expenses incurred up front with the understanding that I am paid back first before any profits are shared.
How will profits be shared? To be discussed, but I imagine a small percentage to my self-publishing company off the top, then an equal split.
If you are interested, please email me at bruceblake (at) hotmail (dot) ca
2. NetGalley Co-op
Another project I want to put together is a NetGalley co-op. If you haven’t heard of NetGalley, they are a site that connects professional readers (bloggers, book reviewers, librarians, educators, etc.) with authors. The service is available to individual authors for a cost of $399, which gives you membership for 6 months and the ability to post one book. There is also an option to create a co-operative of 20 authors…this drops the price to about $300 each, allows a full year and an unlimited number of books for each author. I bumped into this on a discussion thread on KBoards, so maybe have a read through that for a better explanation (find it here).
While this is often thought of as a way to collect reviews for ARCs, published books are also allowed. From what I’ve seen so far, this is a great opportunity to get books reviewed by prominent bloggers/reviewers. With promotion being tied more and more to the number of reviews a book has and its average star ratings, and Amazon frowning on authors trading honest reviews, we need to look elsewhere for solutions, and this may be a good one. I think that authors with more than one book they can offer for review over the course of the year will see the best results for their investment.
I am in no way connected with NetGalley nor compensated by them, so I will be taking the same risk as anyone else involved. Take the time to read the thread and, again, contact me at bruceblake(at)hotmail(dot)ca if you’re interested.
So…who wants to play?
The new month has begun and the little brown bar reappears on the old sales chart…Hero to zero. Thankfully, it doesn’t last long, though I’m still struggling to break through in Brazil, the only Amazon store where I’ve yet to sell a copy of any book. Of course, I might be better off worrying about selling in my own country of Canada first.
To finish off last month, check out this post I did over at the Guild of Dreams blog detailing how April’s promo turned out.
Over on the Guild of Dreams, I’ve been detailing my promo efforts this month. Here’s a post about what’s happened so far and what’s coming up.
Some friends of mine from over on the Guild Of Dreams fantasy collective site decided that, with Thanksgiving just around the corner (actually, I’m in Canada, so mine was over a month ago, but who am I to stand in the way of a good turkey dinner?), we should give thanks. So, to show our thankfulness and appreciation, we’re giving stuff away!
For two days only–Nov. 20 and 21–choose one or all of 4 great fantasy novels to help celebrate the season!
November 20 and 21 only:
You can download four fantastic Guild of Dreams fantasy books for FREE!
By Scott Bury
The Dark Age, eastern Europe: theearth has decided to rid itself of humanity with earthquakes, volcanoes and new plagues. Civilizations, even the mighty Roman Empire, crumble under the pressure of barbarian waves that are fleeing worse terrors.
Rejected by his own people, pursued by a dragon, young Javor heads for Constantinople, the centre of civilization, looking for answers to the puzzle of his great-grandfather’s dagger and the murder of his family.
On the ancient, crumbling Roman highway across haunted, deserted Dacia, Javor rescues the beautiful Danisa from a human sacrifice. He cannot help falling in love with her. But Danisa has her own plans, and when she is kidnapped again, Javor has to wonder: what is the connection between his dagger, his lover and his enemies?
Download FREE from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Bones-Earth-Dark-ebook/dp/B006PI0NRG/
An Icarus Fell Novel
By Bruce A. Blake
Icarus Fell’s life sucked. Then he died and things got really bad.
After muggers killed him, Icarus became a harvester, his job to help souls on their way to Heaven, and it turned out he possessed as little talent for this as he did for every other job he lost. People are dead. The deposed Angel of Death nearly took his teenage son. The Archangel Michael is angry with him and the police think he is a serial killer.
The only one left on his side is his guardian angel, but when he asks her to help him get to Hell to rescue the souls wrongly condemned because of him, she refuses to go against Michael’s wishes.
Then another guardian shows up. Piper is beautiful, mysterious, and willing to help. Having her around turns Icarus’ afterlife upside down. But knowing how to get to Hell is only half of the problem.
Getting back with your soul is the real challenge.
by Steven Montano
Free on Smashwords through November 25th!
In the time after The Black, human survivors of the Southern Claw Alliance clash with vampire legions of the Ebon Cities in a constant war for survival. Earth as we know it has been forever damaged by an arcane storm that fused our world with distant realms of madness and terror. Things that once existed only in our nightmares stalk the earth.
Now, humanity is threatened by one of its own.
Eric Cross, an enlisted warlock in the Southern Claw military, is part of an elite team of soldiers and mages in pursuit of a woman known as Red — a witch whose stolen knowledge threatens the future of the human race. The members of Viper Squad will traverse haunted forests and blighted tundra in their search for the traitor, a journey that ultimately leads them to the necropolis of Koth.
There, in that haven of renegade undead, Cross will discover the dark origins of magic, and the true meaning of sacrifice…
Experience a dark and deadly new world in the debut novel of the “Blood Skies” series from author Steven Montano
Enter Coupon Code: EL47N in the Shopping Cart.
By Autumn M. Birt
In the buried archives of the Temple of Dust may lie the secret to defeating the Curse, a creature which seeks to destroy 16 year old Ria for the forbidden gifts she possesses. But it is from among the ranks of those who control the Curse where Ria will find her best chance of success. Only the Priestess Niri can save Ria from the forces that hunt her, if Niri doesn’t betray the girl first. Along with Ria comes Ty and his sister, Lavinia, both bound to defend Ria from the Church of Four Orders and Niri, if they must. However, Ty has been living a life less than honest and keeping it from his sister. To survive a journey that takes them across the breadth of their world, the four must learn to trust each other before pursuit from the Church and Ty’s troubled past find them.
Enter Coupon Code SQ46H in the Shopping Cart.
Or from Amazon.
Since giving everyone candy might prove logistically impossible (I’m not Santa Claus nor the Great Pumpkin, after all), I’ve decided to give everyone soemthing else for Halloween:
That’s right, all my novels will be only 99 cents until the end of October. So grab a copy to stuff in your treat bag, and don’t forget to tell your friends!
Canadian, friend, author, and all-around good guy Scott Bury and six of his best friend writers are giving away their books to celebrate the long weekend. Sounds better than fireworks to me! Have a look at these great authors and their books below, then go get yourself some great reads, for free!
Tell us about it, Scott:
Coming this weekend: September 1 – 3
Announcing Independent Authors International’s first free book giveaway: iAi Labor Day Free Reads happens this coming long weekend.
From September 1 to 3, anyone can download up to seven great titles from seven great, free-thinking independent authors — all for free!
I’m proud to be included in this group. Take a look at what will be available for you this coming weekend:
The Five Fortunes of Fulano — one of the Sketches from the Spanish Mustang, by Benjamin X. Wretlind. From a reviewer: “Mr. Wretlind has penned a tale of such emotional and literary depth that it will haunt the reader long after the last page is turned.”
Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift — described by a reviewer as “both the Superman 2 and Wrath of Khan to the first book,” Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula. Both are great, esteem-building reads for the middle-grade and young adult set.
At Road’s End — the first in Zoe Saadia’s literary adventure series set in pre-Columbian America, this book has been reviewed as “a book to have on your MUST READ list.”
American Goddesses — Gary Henry’s paranormal/science-fiction yarn that makes you think, and think again.
Gray Justice — the first in Alan McDermott’s series about ex-commando Tom Gray, a man who doesn’t so much take justice into his own hands and thrust it into all of ours.
Lost — the second installment in Rob Guthrie’s thriller-horror crossover featuring one of the most interesting cops of all, Bobby Mac, and the book that established Guthrie as a truly talented and visionary writer.
And of course, my own offering: The Bones of the Earth — a tale that combines epic fantasy and historical research with a story about a young man who is trying to find his own place in a confusing and often chaotic world.
Don’t miss out. If you’re looking for some great reading material for your e-reader this fall, you could not do better than this mix from thought-provoking, truly independent authors.
To download them for free, simply type the titles into the search field in Amazon. Or watch this space and my Twitter feed for the link to the iAi Labor Day Free Reads landing page.
I’ve been doing a little research over the last couple of weeks, using myself as the guinea pig (apologies to out of work guinea pigs everywhere).
It began on July 19 when I made my urban/dark fantasy novel On Unfaithful Wings free through the KDP Select program for three days. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this; in fact, it’s the third. I’ve had pretty fair success with the select program, with each yielding an average of about 9000 free downloads, bit this time, there were two things different.
#1 – I released the second book in the Icarus Fell series, All Who Wander Are Lost, a couple of days before.
#2 – I put both books on sale for 99 cents for the remainder of the month after the promotion.
In the ten days following the promotion, I sold a total of 312 books between the two titles, easily my best month as an indie author. On Unfaithful Wings rose as high as #2 in the dark fantasy category, briefly hit the top 100 in contemporary fantasy, and made in appearance in the mid-4000s overall on Kindle. All Who Wander also sold well, but I don’t have ranking stats as it was fresh out of the box and hadn’t settled into its categories yet.
As those of you who have published to Kindle likely know, at any price point under $2.99, the royalty rate drops to 35%, meaning each sale was worth about 30 cents to me after delivery costs were deducted. 312 sales at 30 cents royalty on each works out to $93.60 in earnings.
I held off sending my letter of resignation to my day-job boss.
On August 1, I put the price of each book back to their normal level ($2.99 for Unfaithful, $3.99 for Wander), which bumps the royalty rate back to 70%. In the first ten days of the month, the two books have sold 56 copies combined (I have left any borrows of Unfaithful under KDP’s prime lending program out of all figurings). At a royalty of $2.07 for each $2.99 title sold and $2.71 for each $3.99 title, total earnings in the first ten days are $138.96. To make the same at the 99 cent price point, I would have had to sell 438 copies.
So here’s the give and take of it all: at the higher price point, I’m making more money, but my rankings are dropping. At the lower price point, I was making less, but my books were more visible. So which makes more sense? Earnings or exposure?
There are, of course, some unanswered questions: did putting the price up slow sales, or is that an inevitable eventuality of running a free promo? As my rankings dip at the higher price point, will sales continue to be enough that the 70% royalty rate keeps me earning more than the lower price point would have? And the big question: if I didn’t drop the prices after the promo, what would sales have been like?
I don’t have answers to the questions (if you do, feel free to comment below), but I am willing to further experiment. I’ll be doing another free promo on August 24 and 25. This time, I won’t ne adjusting the priciing post-promo, so we’ll see if there is a difference in sales after. Keep your eye open here for results 10 days later.
It’s been a couple of days since I finished my free promotion on Kindle for “On Unfaithful Wings”, so it’s time to round-up the results and see how everything came out. Let’s start with the numbers.
Total downloads: 9558 (9399US, 97UK, 61DE and 1IT). My highest overall ranking on Kindle’s free “Bestsellers” list was #23; I hit #1 in both fantasy and horror. Of course, this was over a two-day period (Thurs. and Fri., April 26 and 27), which works out to an average download rate of 199/hour. In comparison, my promo in March was three days (Fri-Sun., March 23-25) and I had a total of about 8400 downloaded for a rate of 117/hour on average.
What was different this time? Three things. On the plus side, I was listed on both ENT and POI this time while only ENT picked me up on the first free run. Also, I employed the services of Book Tweeting Service to tweet my promo to over 60000 twitter followers. On the negative side, I was working my day job through this promo, so didn’t have much time to concentrate on it (I was on holidays last time). Enough background; on to the questions I know all the authors reading want to know the answer to:
Did the tweeting service help? I know you’d all like a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but it’s not as easy as that. Here’s what I know: for $57, they tweeted about my promo a total of 60 times over 6 different twitter accounts, a cost of just shy of $1/tweet. It’s a very cheap rate if you think 60000 pairs of eyes saw it ($0.00095/view if everyone tuned in). I’m sure it wasn’t that many; in fact, I can’t say how many unique pairs of eyes there are between the accounts. I used 2 different bitly links for tweeting purposes (I intended one to be for my tweets and one for theirs, but there was crossover as I retweeted theirs and they retweeted mine). In total, the two links were followed 142 times during my promo days, equating to a rate of $0.40/click if you attribute all the clicks to them. Which leads to the big question:
Was it worth it? Again, this is a difficult one to answer. My post-promo sales haven’t seen the same boost as they did after my first promo, but my sales for Sat/Sun are considerably more than my average weekend. Because of Book Tweeting Service? To some degree, maybe, but impossible to say for sure. And there’s no way to know if all (or any) of those 142 clicks equated to downloads. Your decision as to whether that’s worth the $57 or not.
Would you use them again, Bruce? I think I probably would, but I’d do two things differently. First, I’d work a little harder at the wording of my tweets. Second, I’d run with the service the day before to build anticipation and perhaps capture a few more views, and I may also continue the day after to see if it captures additional paid sales.
Final observation. I am extremely happy with the results of both of my promotions. My book is now in the hands of around 18000 people in the space of a little over a month. Wow! And my paid sales in the month between promos are 13 times what they were the previous month (and 29 times greater than the month before that). The thing I’ve noticed, though, is that the real success experienced from a Kindle free promo comes to those who make the top 10 on the free chart. Reaching that height puts you onto some popularity lists and the movers and shakers list where people can find you. The book that hit number one while I was on my free promo (“No Turning Back”) is still on the movers and shakers list two days later and is currently #63 on Kindle’s overall paid bestsellers. As happy as I am with my results, that is more what I’m looking for, so next time I will probably use the tweeting service again and look at adding a couple of other avenues of promotion to my bag of tricks. I’ll let you know what and how it goes when the time comes.
All I want is for everyone to have a copy of my book. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
In my last post, I suggested there may be a link between Kindle free promo success and being listed in one or both of Pixel of Ink and eReader News Today. Now, halfway through my second free promotion, I have some proof.
During my last promotion for “On Unfaithful Wings” (a Fri-Sun run, March 23-25), eReader News Today (ENT from here on out) had me listed in the morning on Friday. By the end of the day, I had about 4200 downloads. I was ecstatic! Over the following two days, another 2000+ people took advantage of my generous nature and I ended my free run somewhere in the neighbourhood of 8400 downloads. I reached #1 in the fantasy category and peaked at #41 on the overall Kindle free list. Wow! Awesome! As I mentioned last post, I saw some residual sales from that. Couldn’t be happier.
This time, things started off slower. I kept track of how things progressed last time (ok, I was actually on vacation then and checked what was going on about every 15 minutes). At about 9am on the first day of my first promo, I’d had over 400 downloads. It was around then ENT listed me and by 10am, I was at over 850. This time? 119 at 10am.
Oh no. I ‘d heard about the ‘second kindle promo curse’, where so many authors on the Kindle Boards lamented how great their first run was and how much their second one sucked in comparison (I rarely go to Kindle Boards anymore — I found too many people were getting whiny). Surely I couldn’t be a victim of the curse, could I?
Nope. At 10:49am (I know the exact time because I texted my wife), I noticed that Pixel of Ink (POI from now on) had listed my novel. By 11:15, downloads were at 400. At 3:30 I hit 2100. At 4pm, I saw that ENT also had me listed. I finished the day with 6150 downloads. Last promo, it took me until the end of the second day to get to that number (and that was a Friday/Saturday, not a Thursday). The last time I looked, I was sitting at #1 in both fantasy and horror and #22 overall.
Very happy, and hoping for another rocking day (#1, here I come!)
So what is it that guarantees a successful Kindle free promo? Hammering your tweeps on twitter? Sharing with all your friends on Facebook? Paying a service to tweet for you? How about paying for advertising? I’m going to have a look at the results of a couple of those in my next blog, but from what I can see so far, it’s the listing on ENT and POI that really boosts the downloads. And how do you get there?
As far as I can tell, it’s about luck.
The debates have raged over whether giving books away through Amazon’s KDP Select program is a good idea or not. Some argue that giving away something you worked so hard at devalues the process. Others don’t like the idea of being exclusive to one platform. Still others swear by it. I can only give my opinion based on my own situation and experience. To recap: I did a three-day free promotion for my urban fantasy novel, “On Unfaithful Wings”, March 23-25 and gave away 8400 copies. My sales for the month of March prior to the giveaway totalled a world-toppling 11. Over the first week post-promo, I sold 77 books. Since then, I’ve sold another 53. Those aren’t the kind of numbers that will allow me to quit my day job and write full-time but, if my math is any good, I will have sold more than 5 times as many copies this month as I would have in March without the promo.
For me, that constitutes a success. So, I’m doing it again toady and tomorrow (April 26-27), which is where the title of this post comes in.
Watching… I will spend a great deal of my time (even though I’ll be at work – don’t tell my boss) keeping an eye on the number of freebies downloaded throughout the next two days. The key to success in a free promo is to have a high number of downloads so that you climb the popularity lists, thereby making your book easier to find. The hope is that, after the promo, it remains easier to find and generates more paid sales.
Waiting… My observations have shown that books listed in the free section of Pixel of Ink and/or eReader News Today have the best chance of climbing high on the Kindle charts. These two sites have hundreds of thousands of followers and, if you’re listed in both, it pretty much guarantees charting in the top 20. The problem? You don’t know if they will pick your book up or not. There are thousands free every day and both only list a handful. I don’t know how they choose and, to the best of my knowledge, there is no way to make sure you get on their listings (if anyone knows how,please let me in on it). So I’ll be waiting to see if they pick me.
Hoping… I’ve done one thing differently this time in that I’ve employed the services of a company called Book Tweeting Service. Guess what they do? For a fee ($57 for 2 days), they tweet your promo on their different twitter accounts (@TweetYourBooks, @WriteIntoPrint, @ukeditor, @TheAuthorsClub, @TheBookBuzzers, @PukkaEpub) with over 60000 followers. I don’t know if this will have much effect but, for $60, I thought it was worth a try. I’ll let you know how that goes.
So there, in a nutshell, is how I’ll live my next two days. Watching the downloads, waiting to see if I’ll be listed, hoping the things I’ve done will be effective.
What ever happened to writing?
If you’ve been following, then you know for my last post I got a little behind schedule/disorganized/lazy and, instead of writing an entirely new post, I cobbled together a couple of lines and then added an excerpt from my novel, “On Unfaithful Wings”. Truthfully, there were two reasons why I chose this route: 1. I was a little behind — both on my blog and on my writing, and 2. I read someone else’s blog (about how to write a blog), and posting excerpts was one thing that was suggested there.
“That sounds good,” thinks Bruce. “Give ‘em a piece of the book and it doesn’t take much time.”
The result? My lowest number of blog views in a month. Hmm. Maybe an excerpt isn’t the best way to go, at least not an excerpt from an already-published book. Maybe I’ll try a preview of a coming work in the future, but for now I’m going to go back to more of the ‘what I’m up to’ type of post. These seem to be the ones people read.
So here it is: I’m preparing to do another free promo for “On Unfaithful Wings” on April 26 and 27.
“But Bruce, you’ve done that before. We can go to your older posts and find out all about it!”
While that’s true, I’m adding a few twists this time. First, I ran a free promo for my short story collection, “Backroads and Alleyways”, last week. My hope was to give away a bunch and create more visibility, thereby bumping sales of both it and my novel.
It didn’t work. When I did my first promo for ‘Unfaithful…’, I gave away over 8400 copies and sales have increased (not enough to retire yet, but I’m getting there). This time, only 320 people took advantage of my generosity and it’s had no affect on sales. I attribute this lack of downloads to two things: the fact it’s a collection of short stories and because it wasn’t promoted by any of the larger sites that do such things. One of them sent me a very polite and informative email explaining that there are over 2000 books free for Kindle on any given day, so they only consider listing ones with 10+ reviews and 4+stars. In fact, one day, they explained, there were so many to choose from, you didn’t get listed unless you had 15 reviews or more! My poor little collection of diversions has only one review (an enthusiastic 5 stars!) so, alas, it was overlooked.
“So what are you doing that’s different?”
More lead time, for one. As soon as I’m done this post, I’m going to send out all my notices to the free-ebook sites. That’s a full week before I did last time.
Also, I’m having the cover of the book professionally redesigned. While I think the current cover is OK, and I have had one or two compliments on it, I don’t feel it measures up to many of the others out there. I don’t want anything to identify me as anything other than professional — I invested $2000 in having the book edited (and I’m glad I did), the cover should reflect that. Keep your eyes open, I’m hoping to reveal the new cover later this week or early next.
The other thing I’m going to try is a little bit of new-age advertising. No, I don’t mean I’m hiring a medium, I mean I’m going to employ more social media rather than purchasing an ad somewhere. I’m going to try a company called Book Tweeting Service. For a reasonable fee (well, we’ll see if it’s reasonable once the results are in), they will tweet to their 60000 followers for you. I’m not sure if it will be worth it (for 2 days, it will cost a little less than $1/tweet), but I’m willing to risk the $56 to find out. Luckily, the internet is easily measured: I’m not sure if this is true of all the link shortening sites, but I’ve discovered that bitly keeps track of how many times the link they create for you is clicked, so I should be able to determine the effectiveness of their service. I’ll keep you posted.
So there you are…no excerpt, just the straight forward, down-and-dirty facts of my writing life. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go write something I made up.
No, this blog is not the chronicles of what happened 24 days before Cillian Murphy awoke from his coma to find most of London devoured by zombies (though it would probably make a good movie–lots of people to kill and eat). Instead, it’s to fill you in about what’s gone on with my novel, “On Unfaithful Wings” in the four days since I ran a free promotion on Kindle.
To recap: in a three-day period, I gave away 8400 copies of my e-book in North America, U.K., Germany, France and Italy (I mention the last two more for my own feeling of success than anything else–only 1 person in each of France and Italy downloaded my book). I’m quite happy with the number of downloads, though it’s low compared to some of the other promos that have been run. A friend of mine just ran his second free promotion over the last two days and had 15000 downloads (his first time? 50000!), but I’m not here to make comparisons. For me, hitting 8400 was beyond expectations.
And how have things been since? Well, that’s the question all Kindle authors are asking nowadays. You see, Amazon has changed things up a little. Before the middle of March, when you came off your promotion, the free downloads counted as sales, so authors who had successful campaigns ended up high on Amazon’s popularity lists. This equated to sales. After the ides of March, this no longer seems to be the case. Different lists show up on different browsers (as I write this, the Kindle store on my laptop shows Hunger Games as their most popular book while on my iPhone, it’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, a book that doesn’t even seem to be available through my laptop).
I know…weird, right? Nobody knows what effect free promos will have now.
Well, here’s what it’s done for me. On the first day after, my book was purchased 11 times. Day 2 — 14, Day 3 — 13, Day 4 — 15. That’s a total of 53 times my novel has been purchased in the last 4 days. Is that a success? Some might say no. Before mid-March, others have come off their promos and sold hundreds, sometimes even thousands of books. But, as I said, I have no interest in comparing myself to others. What I’m looking at is the fact that, before the promo, I’d sold 11 books for the month of March, and at least 5 of those were ones I gifted to people.
If you use that as your means of comparison, I’d say the promo campaign worked. Isn’t more than quadrupling sales in 4 days a good thing? And where do these sales come from? As far as I can tell, it’s from ending up on a bunch of ‘also-bought’ lists. If you’re familiar with Amazon, you’ll remember the little side-to-side scrolling list of books below most of their wares available that they title “Customers who bought this item also bought…”. In author-speak: ‘also-bots’. My book is now connected to about 100 other books on Amazon. Now, when someone views those books, they have an opportunity to see mine.
If the pace continues at an average of 13/day (and I don’t know at this point if it will or not), that means I will sell around 400 books/month or 4800/year. That would add in the neighbourhood (see, I’m Canadian) of $9500/year to my household income. Not bad for a part-time income doing something I love. But is it worth it?
Absolutely. The average advance paid by a traditional publisher is around $8000, so I could out-earn that in one year with one book. But I’m in this writing thing for the long-haul. The second book in my Icarus Fell series, “All Who Wander Are Lost”, should be available by summer. The first book of the 2-part ‘Khirro’s Journey’ epic fantasy, “Blood of the King”, should be out by summer’s end and part 2 by the end of the year. I have plans for at least three more Icarus novels and there are lots more books in me after those.
In my view, every time my book was downloaded for free, and now every time it’s purchased, I’m potentially creating a loyal reader who will purchase the next book. and maybe the next.
I’ll say I’m happy with the results of my first run on Kindle’s free promo. Was it a screaming success? Ask me in a couple of years.
Well, it’s finally over. Three days of stress, near-constant twitter and Facebook exposure and constant statistics checking (I think my laptop gave me a tan on my face) are done. I’m relieved. My wife is ecstatic. My kids get to see their Dad again. I think even the hamster feels a little less stressed-out.
Here’s a bit of a recap about how things went, in case you haven’t read my other posts, and I’ll finish up with the final results.
Preparation for my Friday-Sunday free promo began on the Monday before with sending notifications to a number of sites that list free books (see this post for links). During the week before I also redesigned my cover, changed the content of my book (I added previews for two of my other novels) and uploaded both to Kindle. That was a bit stressful in itself as, when you change the content, Kindle automatically generates a message telling you it may take as much as five days for the new content to become available! My book disappeared while the update happened. As I did this on Wednesday, I nearly pooped! But fear not, everything worked out. It was back up again by noon on Thursday, shiny new cover and all, ready to be ravaged by the crowds hungry for my writing.
12:01am Friday morning came around and, as the focused individual I am (some might say obsessive…I disagree, honey), I watched and waited. It didn’t drop in price. 12;15? No price change. That’s okay, sometimes it takes a bit. 12:25? No. 12:37? 12:43? 12:47? 12:50? 12:52? 12:53? No. Screw it, I went to bed.
Remember the focused (not obsessive) comment earlier? I woke at 5:35 am and couldn’t keep myself from checking…it had been marked down to free and already had 45 downloads. Not bad. Go back to sleep, you obsessive bastard.
By the end of day one, the book had been downloaded over 4300 times. I attribute the bulk of this to being picked up by some of the sites that list and tweet free books, including E-Reader News Today, one of the two biggies in the world of free ebook promo. There were about 450 downloads between 9am and 10am on Friday, my biggest hour which, I suspect, lines up pretty closely to ENT’s listing. I did make an attempt to jot down hourly totals, intending to have reams of data for any writers who might read my blog, and I got lots of them, but not enough to do a thorough analysis. Plus it would bore most of you. Suffice it to say I averaged over 116 downloads/hour every hour of the 72 hour promo. By the end of Saturday, without being picked up by any other listings, I hit about 6400 downloads, a slower day, but still good numbers.
Which brings me to the final tally… ‘On Unfaithful Wings’ was downloaded 8248 times from Amazon’s U.S. site, 69 times in the U.K., 10 in Germany and 1 each in France and Italy (no one in Spain, Kindle’s only other store, wanted me). That makes a total of 8329 people who now have copies of my little book on their computer or other e-reading device. During the 3 days, I reached as high as #46 on Kindle’s free Bestsellers list, sat at #1 in Fantasy for more than two days and #1 in contemporary fantasy for the better part of all three days.
My main promo through Sat and Sun was on Facebook and twitter (and some might say I did that too much. Sorry, Jordan). My links were shared and tweeted many time; thank you to everyone who did. Here’s something I didn’t know: I used bit.ly to shorten my links for twitter, and they keep track of the number of times a link is followed, so I can tell that my twitter campaign was successful. As of this morning, the link they created that goes directly to my Kindle page has been followed 51 times. Other links I posted (to reviews, rankings, etc.) were followed and additional 48 times for a total of almost 100 click-throughs from twitter alone (though truthfully, some of those are likely from FB, too, as my tweets post to my FB page as well).
All in all, I’m extremely happy with the results. Now comes the true test… does all this effort equate to an increase in sales? I’ll find out in a couple of days and let you know.
I considered thanking everyone individually for the help they gave during my campaign, but I’d probably forget someone and hurt their feelings, so let’s go with bulk appreciation. Thank you so much to everyone who helped out by sharing my posts, tweeting and re-tweeting. Thanks to all who offered assistance and advice in how to run a free promo, and to everyone who encouraged and supported me. Special thanks to everyone who downloaded a copy. I hope you enjoy it and make sure you go back and leave a review when you’re done.
In the meantime, check out an interview I did for Fiona McVie at Inspiration Forum.
And, once more, thank you, thank you, thank you.
I slept in a bit this morning – got up about 8am (I am on vacation, you know). Here’s where things were at then:
4880 downloads, #46 on the free bestseller list.
The pace of the downloads seems to be slowing a bit, so I’m going to hit the promoing pretty hard today to see if that helps. I really don’t know what to expect from a Saturday. Are people more likely to be downloading books because they’re not at work, or less likely because it’s their day off and they have lots to do? My ranking has slipped a couple of places, so I have to assume people aren’t finding me as easily right now.
What I need for a boost is to have Pixel of Ink, an on-line site that lists free e-books and has over 200,000 followers, to pick me up. That would be good.
Everyone cross your fingers.
Just coming up 9pm here on the left coast, so not exactly the end of the night, but I thought most of you would be in bed (or inebriated) if I waited until midnight or 1am to update the first day of my Kindle free promo. So here we are as of 9pm:
#64 overall free bestsellers
#40 free genre fiction
#1 free contemporary fantasy
#1 Free fantasy
Very happy with how things are going. Lots of people have helped and I appreciate every bit of advice and encouragement I’ve gotten. Fingers crossed for two more great days like today.
It’s 11:14 and I’m finding it hard to concentrate. I feel like things are a bit of a whirlwind. Here’s a recap.
5:35am – 45 downloads
8:30am – 358
9:07am – 413
Tell my wife I’m averaging around 80-90 downloads/hour. She says it’s not enough. The universe listens.
10:07am – 853
11:07 – 1124
“On Unfaithful Wings” has reached #2 on Kindle’s list of free contemporary fantasy, #84 in genre fiction and #142 on the overall free list (the last time I checked before that, I was around #1990).
Here’s crossing my fingers that it keeps going.
If you’ve been following along with my blog, you’ll know I went to bed a little disgruntled. The free promos on Kindle are supposed to start at 12am Pacific (which happens to be my time zone). The price hadn’t been changed when I gave up and went to bed at around 1am (but it’s okay because I’m enjoying Game of Thrones).
Just like the kid at Christmas I mentioned last time, I awoke at 5:35 am and couldn’t help but grab my phone and check. Good news…sometime between 1 and 5:35am, the price got changed. At that time, it had already been downloaded 45 times.
As I sit here typing at 8:30am, my free listing was picked up be eReader News Today (considered one of the two biggies in the world of Kindle giveaways), and my novel has been down-loaded for free 358 times from the U.S Kindle site, 14 times in the U.K. (plus one sale for my short story collection), and twice in Germany.
I feel like it’s a good start.
Now back to promo-ing and chewing my fingernails.
So I didn’t sleep too well last night.
I know it’s silly, but I feel like a kid at Christmas. At 12:01am on March 23, 201, my novel “On Unfaithful Wings” goes on a free promo on Kindled for three days. While three does will not determine the success or failure of my book, a successful free run could help put some much-needed coins in the coffer to help bankroll my addiction to publishing novels.
March 22 – 7pm – My daughter has a friend over and my son has agreed to watch them , so the wife and I go out to dinner. Nice little place in Victoria called ‘Fiamo’. If you live where I live, I recommend it, the food is quite good. But I’m distracted through the meal. We talk about the play she’s writing, our daughter’s photography course, etc., etc., but it keeps coming back to the book. Oh well.
10pm – Watching Game of Thrones. Tapping my foot. Fidgeting. Writing a blog. How’s that for multi-tasking? Two more hours until it goes free. I wonder what will be inside when I unwrap the presents?
11:55pm – It’s been a few years since I read A Game of Thrones. It’s amazing how much I’ve forgotten, but the show seems to stick pretty close to the book. I managed to mostly concentrate on the show, but I have to admit, I paused to peek at Kindle a few times. Almost time for free to begin, though I’m not sure how prompt Amazon is. I’ll be back in a few minutes.
12:12am – Not free yet. A few more minutes then off to bed.
12:29am – Bah! Still not showing up for free yet. I’ll get back to you as soon as it does (or go to bed if it doesn’t soon).
Wow, there’s lots to do to get ready to run a free promo for my novel, “On Unfaithful Wings”. Last blog, I let everyone know what they could do to help me, now I thought I’d let you guys know what I’ve been doing so you don’t think I’ve been leaving it all up to you.
First, I re-did the cover of the novel. It’s the same picture, but I changed the font and colours so it’s easier to read in thumbnail form. I’m not 100% satisfied with the final result, but it’s better and will have to do until after the promo is done. I also uploaded a new version of the novel itself. For those of you who might already have a copy — don’t panic. The novel hasn’t changed, I just deleted the free story that had been included (“Yardwork”) and inserted the first chapter of the next Icarus book (it’s got a title now: “All Who Wander Are Lost”) as well as the first chapter of my epic fantasy, “Blood of the King”. I’m hoping to have both novels published by the end of the summer.
Secondly, I’ve been sending notices to sites that specialize in listing free or cheap Kindle books. I’ve found fourteen so far (actually sixteen, but two of them needed more notice than I could give). There’s no guarantee any of them will list my book, but it is very beneficial if they do (one I know has 10000 twitter followers). I will include a list of links at the end of the blog for any of my author friends who might find themselves in my position.
Next, I’ve tried to be active on Twitter and Facebook, posting, re-tweeting, commenting, liking, helping others promote their work (us authors have to stick together and help each other out). I’ve also been involved in Kindle Boards (the forum for Kindle authors and readers). Now, to some of you, that might not sound like much work, but anyone who has ever done any promotion on social media (are you reading this, Goose?), you know it can absolutely eat your life.
Whew, that’s lots. Done, right? Wrong.
Tomorrow will be more social media mostly. Then, on Friday, when the free promo has begun I have a list of five or so Facebook sites to promote to and another 5+ tweeps to get it out to (is that the correct terminology? Tweeps? I’m not totally up on my twitter-cabulary). All Friday, Saturday and Sunday will involve stat-watching, screen-refreshing, hand-wringing, finger-crossing, breath-holding, et al. Oh, and I’ll probably throw in a few blogs along the way to keep everyone posted with how things are going.
That’s it for now. As promised, find links to places I used below. And hey… don’t forget to tell your friends where they can get a good read for free.
Free Kindle Dude E-Reader News Today Freebooksy Pixel of Ink Kindle on the Cheap The Frugal E-Reader Bargain EBook Hunter The Kindle Daily Deal The Digital Ink Spot Books on the Knob Digital Book Today (scroll to the bottom) Free EBooks Daily Indie Books List