We’ve come to the doldrums of the year…Christmas is long done and summer is too far away. How’s an intelligent man or woman supposed to pass the time? Watch reality TV? Invent role-playing games for you and your cat?
If these and other inane activities don’t work for you, then jump into I Read Fantasy’s Urban Fantasy Sale and Giveaway! From Feb. 20-22, pick up some great reads for cheap to pass the time and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card!
CHECK OUT THESE GREAT TITLES
Oh…and did I mention the opportunity to score a $100 Amazon gift card? Click the link for your chance to win:
GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY READING!!
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.