Notes From the Self-Pubbed (Issue #8)

THE BLOG TOUR ISSUE!

My Virtual Blog Tour ended earlier this month and I’m ready to share the goods and the bads and the ups and the downs. The Tour was arranged by Goddessfish Promotions and began in late December and continued until the middle of April. What would happen was Goddessfish would coordinate with a book review blogger to schedule a day where that blogger would post an advertisement for my book or interview with me or an excerpt from one of the books or some other piece of content relating to Grant Scotland. Then all of that blogger’s followers would see the post and comment on it in order to be eligible for an Amazon Gift Card. Goddessfish scheduled on average about two bloggers a week, generally Tuesdays and Thursdays, but sometimes Mondays and Wednesdays, and each one was pretty good about posting something different so followers were encouraged to “follow” the tour from one site to another.

Sounds great, right? I had been skeptical about the true advertising power of this sort of thing, since I found it difficult to imagine there were that many book-blog sites, not to mention active members who visited them frequently. I mean, do you visit blogs that talk about books on any sort of regular basis? I mean JUST books. This site doesn’t count, since it’s my personal blog where I also talk about being an author – I rarely talk about what I’m reading/have read. I’m talking about “fan sites” for fantasy, romance, sci-fi, etc. Do you ever go to these sites and hang out and talk about books?

 

“Hey, everyone! I just found out about this great book called The Necronomicon! I can’t wait to get my hands on it!”

 

Yeah, neither do I. Nevertheless, a blog tour was something I had to try, since I couldn’t very well claim I was taking this self-publishing enterprise seriously if I didn’t try it at least once.

It turns out once is enough. Probably more than enough. That is to say, I’m never doing anything like it ever again. Not on my dime, anyway.

First off I want to say that Marianne and Judy at Goddessfish were very nice and professional. I have nothing but good things to say about them. However, I can’t recommend their services, because my own results were so disappointing. In fact, so bad was my experience that I feel I have to warn other self-published authors to save their money and keep away from blog tours in general.

So, what was so bad? Well, mainly the biggest problem became apparent fairly early on. After the first few stops on the tour, it became obvious that each time a blogger hosted a blog post about Grant Scotland, the same 6 or 8 people would comment – on every site. That is, there didn’t seem to be separate followers on separate sites. It was always the same names, no matter if it was a site that claimed it mostly liked romance books or mostly liked fantasy books. Oh, and almost all of them mostly liked romance books, judging by their style and sidebar content and advertising.

 

“Where is the ripped bodice? No ripped bodice = no sale.”

 

So, the audience was frustratingly small, but that’s okay, nobody was buying anything anyway. I ran kindle countdown deals on all four books and Goddessfish made sure the deals were advertised on every site where Grant Scotland was featured, but not a single sale was recorded (not entirely true, but let’s just say I noted no “spike” in sales). Well, unless some sales happened during the Bookbub promotion period, but the tour had already been going on for almost two months by that time so I find it unlikely.

But I had heard blog tours were a great way of generating reviews and I had sent out free e-copies of all the books, so I was looking forward to getting a few Amazon reviews at least. Nope. Not one. I did, however, get four very enthusiastic reviews on Harlie’s Books by someone who clearly actually read all four books. So, that was nice, but it would have been nicer if those reviews had made it on to Amazon.

But did I make any new friends, at least? Hard to say. I know I have new followers to the blog and Facebook pages, but whether those people are here for the content or the promise of giveaways, it’s impossible to tell.

Well, I guess it’s not impossible. I could always just cancel the giveaways and see if anyone sticks around. In fact, I think I’ll do that. I’ve been mulling it over and doing extra reading about mailing lists and giveaways and authors and I’ve come to the conclusion that mailing lists and giveaways are GREAT ways to get a ton of followers, but they don’t do squat in terms of building an audience. An audience is composed of readers and they’re not the ones making the rounds from site to site trying to get free stuff. Those are internet gypsies. Additionally, every person I’ve seen advocating for mailing lists and giveaways ultimately turns out to be someone trying to sell me something. Sure, they may also be an author (although I’m highly dubious of this in each and every case) but they always put way more effort into talking up some pay-to-play service instead of what’s cool or interesting about their books, writing, etc.

 

“You want to know about my book? Well, it’s very successful. But wouldn’t you rather know how I made it so successful?”

 

So, no more mailing list. You’re just going to have to bookmark me or sign up to follow the blog by email (although I’ve found in my personal experience that wordpress emails often get filtered to the junk folder) and just keep an eye on the blog. I’m sure at some point in time in the future I’ll give away free stuff in some off-the-cuff contest, but doing the whole Mailchimp/Rafflcopter/Twitter Ads route just isn’t for me.

As for Blog Tours, Goddessfish offers some very reasonably priced options if you’re a self-pubber and you’re thinking that maybe you can change some internet gypsies into book buyers and fans. I chose the biggest/most expensive option because I figured in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound and obviously can’t at all recommend it. Maybe stringing together a few cheaper tours might yield better results for you.

I just re-read what I wrote and it sounds like I’m down on self-publishing and I’m not. Absolutely not. Although the industry is swarmed by pirates and snake oil salesmen, it’s still very rewarding to have almost complete control over your own work. I am, however, almost certain at this point that a hybrid approach is the best way to go. If I can get some stories or novels traditionally published it will make it much easier to get my self-published stuff in front of a much wider audience. I guess to look at myself as objectively as possible, I’m moving away from being a true self-publisher and towards being an author who self-publishes. True, this really only works for authors who have already attained some measure of success in traditional publishing, but I’m glad I went the self-pub route first. This entire experience has been very interesting and has given me a lot of confidence in my writing that I realize now I desperately needed in order to take myself seriously. Also, I think if I hadn’t tried it first, I’m not sure I ever would have.

I’m still deeply suspicious of traditional publishing, though. I’ve heard many horror stories from many authors about being badly mishandled and then having to live with not having rights to their own work when their publisher drops them. That makes me cringe and it’s something I’ll never let happen to the Adventures of Grant Scotland. I’m way too invested in that series to ever hand it over. Well, never say never, I guess. At any rate, I realize I should start writing a stand-alone novel (not related to the series, but probably a sci-fi or fantasy book) and see if I can attract an agent, but I’m committed to getting AoGS to six books first. Right now the plan is to keep writing Grant Scotland (outline and first chapter of book 5 done so far) but also crank out at least two more short stories by year’s end and put those on the magazine merry-go-round with the other two I’ve finished.

But I might start putting together something for an agent sooner rather than later. Probably should. I’ll keep you posted.

 

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Happy spring, everyone! A great time to make new plans and start new projects!

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.” – Vernon Law

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I Only Have Everything Left To Do

All done! Finished! Fini! Mission Accomplished! Pencils Down! Le livre c’est morte! No. Wait. That’s not right. About five years worth of French classes and you’d think I would have learned one damned thing. I don’t even think I can remember how to say my own name.

Anyway. Not important. I don’t write in French. I barely write in English.

The point is that I have finished the first draft of the fourth book in the Adventures of Grant Scotland series! Huzzah! I even maybe kind of sort of know what I’ll call it, but I’m not 100% on that, so I’ll keep it to myself for now.

 

"Keep it secret. Keep it safe."

“Keep it secret. Keep it safe.”

 

But what does this mean? When will this book be released so the one or two people who mistakenly download it can immediately return it when they realize there are no pictures of boobies?

Well, I’ll spend the next two to three months revising it and then get the editing and cover art done. It would be nice to think I’ll have everything wrapped up by June 1st, but July 1st is the safer bet. And while I’m doing all this revision, I’ll also be continuing to write the short stories I’ve been working on and setting up promotions for the new book as well as the series as a whole and getting print versions ready for order. Oh, and I’ll be trying to drum up real world enthusiasm by getting space at a fantasy/sci-fi convention and raffling off some books and t-shirts. Hopefully, I can purchase a booth without having to ransom someone’s child. Again.

NOTE TO SELF: Look for less awesome kid this time. Last one was too much fun and was a killer Catan player. Couldn’t resist setting up play dates, which have been a little awkward. Maybe kidnap a brat. Wait… parents might not want him back. Hmmm…

Oh, and the map! I keep forgetting about the map. There’s a map to Grant Scotland’s world – two, actually. They are in very rough form, but more or less ready to hand over to an artist and have them make something pretty. This is more a question of having spare cash. I don’t believe maps are critical to the series, but I’d like to add them to the blog and Grant Scotland Facebook community page as just a fun add-on for fans.

When I get some fans, that is. I ordered a bunch from Amazon, but they still haven’t showed up. I did get a large shipment of desk-top, oscillating… You know what? I’m not going to do that. You deserve better.

 

"Don't make me come over there. That joke was almost a hate crime."

“Don’t make me come over there. That joke was almost a hate crime.”

 

So, let’s see. I’ve got a ton of revisions to do (seriously, the amount of trouble Grant is getting into almost requires its own encyclopedic appendix to adequately catalog) plus more writing in and out of the Grant Scotland universe plus a lot of new promotion work. I recently did a no-frills promotion of the first three books during their latest Kindle Countdown phases in March using just the Kindle Advertising Campaigns and the results were not encouraging. That cost-per-click is just too high and there’s still not much difference I can see between interest-targeting and product-targeting (although product-based yields significantly more impressions but fewer sales). At any rate, I’m going to do one more round and tweak the expenditure way down to see if I can still rack up enough impressions/sales to make it worth it. I’ll probably bring my bid down to a dime a click. If the expenditure still gets out of hand, I’ll give up on it until I see some kind of limited guarantee of performance from Amazon. Kindle borrows are increasing in frequency, and that seems related to the campaigns – so there’s that, at least.

I’ve only found less than a handful of outside promoters (E-Reader News Today, Fussy Librarian, Booktastic and perhaps Booksends – although Booksends never pays for itself, its subscriber base seems decently big from what I’ve read elsewhere) who seem to be worth the money, but I’m building up some cash (and giving their subscribers a reset phase) before using them again. Additionally, I’ve heard from everyone who has used it that Bookbub is a veritable goldmine, but I have yet to be accepted onto their newsletter.

So, no Notes From the Self-Pubbed for now or the next few months. Also, the T-shirt giveaway has been put on hold for now. Contain your disappointment! I plan on re-launching the giveaway once Book Four releases. At that point in time I plan on including a free e-copy of Dead Empire along with an entry into the T-shirt giveaway at that time. The hope there is that tying such an enticing invitation to join my mailing list into a blog tour will yield the best results in terms of picking up dedicated readers. But we’ll see.

 

"Such plan! Much idea! Very excite! Wow."

“Such plan! Much idea! Very excite! Wow.”

 

That’s all. Just a quick update. Now I must away. I’ve words to beat into complete sentences and plans to set in motion and pizzas to deliver! YIKES! Is it April already?

Don’t put things off like I do. Get those reviews out and those tips ready. 😉

 

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You Are Not Special

One of my favorite forums to peruse out there in internet land is the one for authors on Goodreads. One particular thread on that board occupies most of my time. It’s called “Best Bang for buck book promos.” It serves as an invaluable information trading tool for all of us self-published authors curious about which advertising sites work well and which don’t. Although I’ve never found any silver bullet pieces of wisdom (aside from “get BookBub to promote your book, duh”) it’s good to keep track of any scams people trip over or any new/cheap promoters that always seem to boost your sales just enough to make a profit and expand your audience.

Occasionally, though, the thread wanders a little off topic. Not very far. Since we’re all there for the same reason, we all share a common desire to keep the information exchange on track. However, recently there was a flurry of posts where people commiserated with each other over the flood of terrible books on Amazon and what that glut of bad writing is doing to hurt the sales of all us good, honest, sincere, forthright, god-fearing and hygienic self-pubbers.

Luckily, I missed the week where these laments were being posted. Had I seen them in real time, I don’t think I could’ve resisted jumping in and picking a fight. My main problem isn’t with people complaining about bad books – for the love of Robert Heinlein, I’ve done plenty of that myself – but some commenters went so far as to recommend Amazon start trying to be more proactive about demanding a higher-quality of product before allowing it to be sold on the site. That’s when I started hopping up and down in my chair and blowing steam out of my ears.

 

Sometimes the steam doesn't come exclusively out of my ears...

Sometimes the steam doesn’t come EXCLUSIVELY out of my ears…

 

The whole point of self-publishing is to bypass any self-appointed gatekeepers and present your work directly to the consumers and letting them be the final judge of its merit! To start hemming and hawing and saying “yeah, but there are people who are just throwing up unedited half-finished manuscripts and it’s giving us all a bad name” makes you sound like you feel like you’re owed something. Like Konrath says “No one owes you a living.” Going beyond that, I would add “You are not special.”

I made this realization a number of years ago about myself and believe me, it was an uncomfortable shock. I thought because I was good at this thing or that thing, it meant I should be given as many breaks as I wanted. Slack should be cut to fit me! When it was explained to me through subtle suggestion and workplace experience that you’re only as good as the latest good thing you did and if you want to succeed at something you have to care enough about it to keep trying to be better at it – only then did I understand I should stop wasting everyone’s time and start carving out my place in the world. On a good day, the world will make a little room for you, but most days you have to dig it out for yourself.

But you say you want Amazon to start separating wheat from chaff for you and your readers? Really? Who’s to say your work isn’t crap? So, you published something that’s 100K words and paid to have it edited and packaged professionally. Good for you! So what? That means you deserve something and the guy who’s just using the marketplace as a free sounding-board for a peer-review and revision process (I’ve read a couple of authors who do this) should be shut out? No. That author has as much right to the open market as you do. You don’t like it? Fine. You’re allowed. Just don’t be one of those guys who wants to change the system to suit himself and tries to make it sound like it’s somehow for the greater good.

 

"There but for the grace of Trump, go I."

“There but for the grace of Trump, go I.”

 

Don’t be that guy. I understand you’re struggling and getting frustrated because you just can’t find an audience. Welcome to the club! Being an author is hard! But here’s the thing – you have to decide whether you actually want to be an author or you want to make money on Amazon. Because if all you want to do is sell books on Amazon, it’s actually not that hard to do. Go copy and paste some romance novels, change some names, photoshop some covers and then post under a pseudonym. Guaranteed after a few promotions and a dozen or so titles, you’ll be raking in a steady profit. NOTE: I’m not knocking romance writers – I’m just saying their genre is rife with this kind of nonsense.

That’s not writing. You know it and I know it. Want to be an author? Write. Write as much as you can as well as you can and after revising your work to the point where you can’t change anything more without changing the whole thing – then publish it. Wash, rinse, repeat. You’ll note that no where in that list of instructions does it mention complaining to Amazon that other writers seem not to try as hard as you do, so they should be shut out so your work is a little less buried under the pile. There’s no need for that and you shouldn’t have time to worry about it anyway.

Want to pass a gatekeeper and be in an elite club? Go the traditional publishing route! Then you won’t have to worry about any of this stuff!

You are not special. Neither is anyone else. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from promoting your work and yourself. Keep writing and challenging yourself and your skills will eventually attract an audience. But trying to lobby for gates and referees on the playing field won’t help your game any.

 

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Thanks again for your valuable time! I deeply appreciate you sharing it with me. As always, feel free to express your thoughts below in the comment section.

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Until next time, drop a quick review on Amazon for a book you liked or hated or fell asleep on. Also…

 

"It puts the tip in the driver's hand or it gets the hose again."

“It puts the tip in the driver’s hand or it gets the hose again.”

 

 

The Debate Over Free Content

There’s some controversy swirling out there about whether it is fair that many writers (or “content providers”) create articles for for-profit sites free-of-charge. On the one hand, it hurts the many struggling writers who are trying to make a living out of journalism, technical writing or even fiction writing. On the other hand, if people want to spend the time and effort to write something for someone else and then just give it away, that should be their right.

A couple of recent articles on the subject, along with a couple of responses from successful authors I admire, seem to bracket the entire debate. Over at The Passive Voice, we have an excerpt from Kristen Lamb’s blog, where she rails against the unfairness of a world where most people expect to get either cheap or free books and stories. She’s basically responding to reports that used bookstores are making a come back and is lamenting that this is indicative of how most people believe writers will produce manuscripts regardless of whether they are paid or not. Obviously, her reasoning is a bit of a stretch, to put it mildly – after all, a writer certainly was paid when the book was first sold. Is the writer supposed to be paid every time the same copy is sold again? Or borrowed? – but her point is still valid. After all, in the 19th century, being a writer was an actual occupation. People who knew how to put words together were respected and could expect to earn a comfortable living as full time employees in several industries. Nowadays? Actual writing ability is largely ignored and most companies will pinch their already over-worked and over-tasked employees to do any needed writing, instead of hiring a dedicated expert.

 

In today's world, Mr. Beauchamp would be... well, I guess he would be me.

In today’s world, Mr. Beauchamp would be… well, I guess he would be me.

 

But Joe Konrath responds on his blog to Kristen’s post, saying basically, no one owes you a living. Just because you’ve produced something doesn’t mean everyone everywhere needs to keep paying you every time they look at it. Also, if you produced content on the internet for free and posted it for public consumption, don’t whine if no one wants to give you any money for it. No one asked you to do it in the first place! I largely agree with Konrath’s views. The glut of content on the internet will continue for the foreseeable future and forcing people to pay for more things isn’t going to do anything but drive free-content deliverers into an even bigger spotlight and/or increase piracy. Neither of those things would help the guy who wants to earn a living writing get paid for his work. In my view, Konrath’s point that this is simply the age we are living in and you have to adapt to it is pretty much spot on. Pirates will be pirates, hobby writers will be hobby writers and on-line companies will continue to try to figure out how to make the biggest bucks any way they can. Instead of whining about it, you should get serious about getting your work out there and getting people to consider paying to see more of it.

Oh, and don’t forget to make more of it. Lots more. Every hour spent ranting about the unfairness of the world is another hour neglecting your own work!

 

"You used to call me on my cell phone..."

“You used to call me on my cell phone…”

 

Another tidbit on this topic just recently popped up. Apparently, Stephen Hull, editor for the Huffington Post UK, crowed about how they don’t pay any of their writers. Their content is 100% free and so therefore somehow more “authentic.” I get what he means – their content producers aren’t beholden to sponsors or advertisers in any monetary way, unlike a lot of other for-profit businesses. However, this argument isn’t exactly accurate. After all, through the Huffington Post’s own selection and editing process, the content is certainly altered. The writer is beholden to them, at least. Also, each writer has their own slant on anything they’re writing about. There’s no such thing as complete objectivity. Saying you use only volunteers for your writing staff doesn’t somehow auto-magically increase their willingness to set aside personal bias and opinion. And just as an added note, being proud of not paying employees while raking in 2.3 billion dollars in revenue represents a disturbing continuation in the glorification of downsizing and maximizing productivity. This has been a trend that has been strangling the middle class and discouraging upward socio-economic mobility for more than a generation.

So, a slow clap for Steven Hull and HuffPo, I guess? Good job? Way to be a part of the problem? If you’re so concerned with the “authenticity” of your content, why not just grant full disclosure? Isn’t that what most reputable news organizations do? If a writer was paid by you, then just say that. If they were paid by Coca-Cola, then just say that. Where’s the problem? Personally, I’d love to see a full-time writer for Coca-Cola fence with one from Pepsi in a monthly “Cola Wars” battle of wits in a dedicated column on HuffPo or Mother Jones or MSN or whatever. That would be fun! Well, sort of. The Cola Wars are mostly over, so I guess they’d need more topical industries.

Maybe have the makers of Levitra battle the makers of Viagra in post after post of innuendo-filled jibes about the relative size of their customer bases? OK, now that would be funny.

 

"Let me just come clean and admit the girth of our profit margins. I just want you to get a firm grasp of my point."

“Let me just come clean and admit the girth of our profit margins. I just want you to get a firm grasp of my point.”

 

But I digress.

Obviously, Mr. Hull’s admission sparked all kinds of indignant outrage. Good old Chuck Wendig let loose with a piece full of hysterical vitriol on his blog. It’s fun reading, but I think he goes a bit too far when he says “No money means no checks, no balances.” As I suggested above, there is no absolute way to secure complete objectivity, regardless of pay. Best thing to hope for is that the hosting site grants full disclosure, as well as doing its own fact checking, of course. But, in one way I find I am in complete agreement with Chuck. Although he didn’t make the point directly, he alluded to it. A world where we allow, even encourage, jobs to start being done for free is a world that only makes our already tilting free-market economy sway even more dangerously toward favoring the privileged class.

Take this as an example. A man walks into a fast-food joint. He approaches the manager and says he loves being a grill chef and has no need of money. He would like to be the restaurant’s grill chef free of charge. The manager immediately puts him to work behind the grill and fires the guy he was paying. Now, that guy has to go get a job at another restaurant, only he’s finding more and more grill chefs are being replaced by these “hobby chefs.” He has to take jobs for less and less pay at worse and worse restaurants just to stay in his chosen industry. His socio-economic mobility goes into a downward spiral. Consequently, he can’t afford to buy as many things as he used to, which affects the profitability of other industries around him.

Now, I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but I think many people don’t realize the role each one of us plays in our capitalist economies of the democratic nations of the west. While it’s great to have so many freedoms, for the love of Andrew Carnegie, you have to be responsible! For myself, I enjoy writing Battletech fan fiction, but I would never dream of submitting my stories to the license holders and saying “Here you go! Feel free to use any and all of this in your published material! Free of charge!”

But people will do what they want in a free society and I can only offer my humble opinion about what I believe to be right or wrong. Consequently, I side mostly with Joe Konrath on this whole debate. If you don’t like not getting paid for your work, then just don’t do it. Either find something else to do with your time or get your head in the game and find ways to monetize your product. Don’t sit around and whine about stuff being unfair. Write your congressman if you feel that strongly about it, but then immediately get back to writing your own stuff and trying to figure out how to beat the game.

 

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Notes from the Self-Pubbed (Issue #6)

For the Grant Scotland franchise, the 2015 holiday promotion season wrapped up in the first week of January with a Kindle Countdown Deal for Spy for a Wayward Daughter. After I tell you how it went, I’ll do a little retrospective about last year’s efforts and my goals for 2016.

So, what was the plan for Wayward Daughter? Well, I decided to play this one pretty low-key and use a shoestring budget. The last promotion I did for Wayward Daughter was perhaps my worst ever, but the conclusion I drew was that it still hasn’t received enough reviews for the better marketing sites to consider it and it’s at an awkward place in the series. Advertising the third book in a series with the first two at full price and an omnibus already released is a tough sell. Interested people who see it and haven’t read the others are likely going to wait for the first one to go back on sale or for the omnibus to drop in price.

Consequently, I didn’t do too much to promote Wayward Daughter this time around. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have promoted it at all, except there were a couple of decent no-review requirement marketing sites I still hadn’t tried and also I had to schedule the Kindle Countdown Deal anyway. Might as well give it a little bit of a marketing boost. Finally, I’m still fiddling with Amazon’s internal ad campaigns, so this gave me an opportunity to do that, too.

Here’s the set up and the take away:

 

Set up:

From list price of $3.99:

From 1/1 to 1/5, Wayward Daughter went to $0.99

From 1/5 to 1/8, Wayward Daughter went to $1.99

ReadFREE.ly ad selected for 1/1: $0

eBookLister ad selected for 1/2: $25 (But I was never charged?)

Amazon DisplayAds campaign for 1/1 to 1/15: $100 cap with a $0.75 max bid per click. Also, I shifted the focus for this campaign to be “product-based” instead of “interest-based” which was what the others had been. This basically means that instead of firing the ad at people Amazon labels as “fantasy readers” or “mystery readers” it targets instead people who have bought titles that I specifically cite. So, I gave Amazon a list of books by authors I feel my stuff kinda-sorta resembles – Glen Cook, George RR Martin, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Jim Butcher… You know, the usual suspects.

 

usual_suspects

It would have been really cool if I had photoshopped in the faces of the authors, but there’s no way you’re getting that kind of effort out of me.

 

Total ad expenditure: $0 (plus $22.82 in resultant Amazon click-charges from ad period)

 

Results:

Sales for 1/1: 1 unit of Wayward Daughter @ $0.99

Sales for 1/2: 1 unit of Wayward Daughter @ $0.99, 1 unit of Troubled King @ $3.99, 2 units of Dead Empire @ $3.99

Sales for 1/3: 1 unit of Dead Empire @ $3.99

Sales for 1/4: 1 unit for Wayward Daughter @ $0.99

Sales for 1/9: 1 unit of Dead Empire @ $3.99

Kindle Unlimited Page Borrows during promotion period: Dead Empire (413), Troubled King (446), Wayward Daughter (43)

Amazon DisplayAds pay-per-click stats:

Impressions: 59,740

Clicks: 44

Average Cost Per Click (aCPC): $0.52

Detail Page View: 49

Estimated Total Sales: (Resulting from same user clicking the ad and then buying) $0

 

Campaign Totals:

Expense: $22.82

Sales: $23 plus about $4.00 in borrowed page reads = $27

Net: About $4.00

 

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Well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. There never was much hope for… wait… what’s this? Is this a PROFIT I see before me? But what do I do with it? This can’t be right. I can’t possibly actually make money – this ruins my entire “struggling author” street cred!

But my rep is probably still intact. Truth be told, my real numbers aren’t exactly that rosy. First of all, my royalties are 70% of my sales, so that knocks actual profit down to an overall minus. Second… I may have accidentally charged my wife’s checking account instead of my own when paying for eBookLister, which would be why I can’t find a record of it anywhere. Sorry, honey! Hehehe… ermmm… Thanks for the kind holiday gift, I guess?

 

SMH

SMH

 

Regardless, I’m pleased with the progress here. I feel like I may be starting to home in on some generally effective marketing strategies. While my self-publishing business lost money last year overall, I managed to lose less and less with each promotion. I’m going to go ahead and call that a positive direction.

I re-enrolled all three books into the Kindle Unlimited program, but I probably won’t spend any money or time advertising them over the next few months. Instead, I plan to do a cross-platform promotion for the omnibus edition shortly before or during the launch of Book Four, which is coming soon. I promise. Some other plans for marketing in 2016 include some blog tours, some press initiatives and – finally – actual printed copies. I’ve decided it’s time to stop hoping a publisher will be interested in picking up my print rights and just commit to making Grant Scotland an all-self-published venture from top to bottom. So, look for that to happen some time in the later half of the year.

As far as writing plans for the New Year, obviously Book Four takes precedence. I’ve committed myself to getting it out the door by June 1st, but hopefully it’ll be sooner than that. I’ve also started writing some more MWO fan fiction, which I’ll be adding to the site soon and I also want to at least start on a draft of a stand-alone military sci-fi tale that may be a short story or may be a novel. Not sure yet. It’s just text-pad notes and images in my head at this point, but I’ll get something down soon.

That’s all for now! Thanks for checking in. Not sure when the next issue of Notes will be, but I promise I’ll keep the blog active with other fun stuff.

Speaking of which – this week’s winner of the Grant Scotland T-Shirt giveaway is… Tara Chase! Congrats, Tara! I’ll be sending out the newsletter soon, so be sure to reply with size preference and location.

Until next time, don’t forget:

 

buffalo_bill1

“It orders the pizza and tips the driver. It does this when it’s told.”

 

 

Notes from the Self-Pubbed (Issue #5)

Well, here we are in January and I’ve got some news from December for you. I know the last thing you wanted to do this winter was go BACK a few weeks, but just keep in mind all the holiday cheer and lights and stuff. Put some bourbon in what’s left of the eggnog. You’ll be fine.

I’ll make this one quick. There’s not much to tell, really. I ran a promotion for Troubled King and had some disappointing sales results, but there were some bright spots.

 

"Why do I even bother with you?"

“I think you should get your bright spots looked at by a doctor.”

 

Maybe so. But let’s get into the numbers, shall we? Or, as Kai Ryssdal says in his hipster way: “let’s do the numbers.” What’s with that guy, anyway? I mean, I like him, but man he comes across as a smarmy and upper crust aristocrat. Likable in that way you like a rich friend who buys you expensive and sometimes illegal stuff, but also incredibly bourgeois. When he brings Steven Dubner on, I always breathe a sigh of relief – someone who actually talks like he’s not trying to sell me something. Anyway, don’t mind me. Just poking a little fun at Kai, but I always enjoy NPR’s Marketplace. Good stuff.

Getting back to business, in mid December I ran a Kindle Select promotion for Spy for a Troubled King and scheduled advertisements with two different sites. Here are the figures from setup and result:

From list price of $3.99:

From 12/14 to 12/18, Troubled King went to $0.99

From 12/18 to 12/21, Troubled King went to $1.99

Choosy Bookworm ad selected for 12/14: $25

Awesome Gang ad selected for 12/15: $10

Amazon click-ad buy layout for 12/14 to 12/28: $100 cap with a $0.75 max bid per click.

Total ad expenditure: $35 (plus $36.09 in resultant Amazon click-charges from ad period)

Why no Facebook community ad page boosts? Got tired of throwing money at Facebook.

 

"But how will I afford my fourteenth mansion?"

“But how will I afford my fourteenth mansion?”

 

Results:

Sales for 12/14: 3 units of Troubled King @ $0.99

Sales for 12/15: 3 units of Troubled King @ $0.99

12/16: Nuthin

12/17: 1 unit of Troubled King @ $0.99

12/18: Nuthin.

12/19 and beyond: a sweaty, hot bag of nuthin.

Amazon pay-per-click stats:

Impressions: 32,211

Clicks: 69

Average Cost Per Click (aCPC): $0.52 (I had adjusted my max bid to $0.75 from the $1.00 I had used for Dead Empire)

Detail Page View: 75 (not really sure how Detailed Page Views beat Clicks, but maybe they counted DPV originating from other sources? I guess they must have.)

Estimated Total Sales: (Resulting from same user clicking the ad and then buying) $1.98

 

Horrible.  Absolutely horrible. Choosy Bookworm, although I like the guy that runs it, still seems to miss the mark. He offers specials sometimes, though, so I may try him again. Awesome Gang was certainly in my price range, but judging by the books that usually show up in their newsletters, I’m not sure I’m reaching my target audience, so I may not try them again. Still, 10 bucks isn’t too much of a risk. Amazon pay-per-click continues to disappoint. I’ll keep tweaking my aCPC downward until I can get some happy medium of exposure vs. expenditure.

BUT! Something happened. From 12/28 to 12/31, I had at least two different readers download and absolutely devour Dead Empire and Troubled King on Kindle Unlimited. At least, as far as I can tell. The spreadsheet they give me is great, but not absolutely conclusive. It looks like two readers ate them up and they both ventured into Wayward Daughter and then lost interest.

I think.

But who knows? Maybe they decided to save Wayward for another time. Anyway, anytime someone gets your book and can’t put it down for a few days can only be a good thing.

Sure wish they leave some reviews.

Ah, Troubled King. Perhaps my most noir-esque thriller of the three, but still it struggles to find a home. Wayward Daughter, I think, is a better novel but Dead Empire still clearly leads in sales, impressions and reviews. Troubled is not just that king, but also this king (meaning me, the king of this pitiful blog empire). Perhaps the new year will yield greater fortune.

 

“Or SOME fortune, at least…”

 

Great. Even my fortune teller is getting cynical.

 

—————————————

 

Well, I told you it would be short. That’s all I have, except one more T-Shirt winner! This week’s T-shirt winner is none other than that Valkyric muse who inspired the title to my Grant Scotland omnibus – Daria Liston!

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Let me know where I can send you my good and worthy threads, Daria, and what size you prefer for yourself or some lucky loved one!

Want a T-Shirt? Sign up for the mailing list!

Until next time, everyone! Be good and do some reviews and tips and such!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closing the book on 2015

So, 2015 is almost in the books. I won’t lie to you. It’s been a year of trials and tribulations. My writing career hasn’t yielded the results I had hoped for, BUT results have been yielded. That’s a terrible sentence. What an awful arrangement of words. It’s hardly English is it? No, don’t look at it. Let’s just keep going and hope it stays behind us. Don’t look back.

And that’s really the lesson I’m carrying forward into 2016. “Don’t look back.”

But first, let me take a look back. What? Did you think there wasn’t going to be some self-reflection in a post like this? Bear with me for a bit.

 

Nobody does a cuter eye roll than Tina Fey. Nobody.

Nobody does a cuter eye roll than Tina Fey. Nobody.

 

When I first decided back in 2013 to self-publish the Grant Scotland series, I knew only enough about the publishing industry to know I didn’t want to go the traditional publishing route and that I had discovered a large amount of inspiration, creative energy and determination that I had never before possessed. Deep down, I knew instant success was not in the immediate future, but I was certain that I no longer had any choice about what to do with the time left to me.

Gads, that sounds fatalistic. I don’t mean it like that. It’s just that I realized I was at that point in life where there are debatably (yes, that’s a word, WordPress – stop squiggling at me) more days behind me than in front. Nothing that I had done up until then had been especially noteworthy, but at the same time I don’t consider any of my time ill spent. Far from it. I’ve worked in bookstores (something I recommend to everyone who loves books – such a great job) and I’ve designed computer games (laborious, but incredibly fun) and I’ve even tried to be a serious-minded career-driven professional programmer – complete with benefits and a retirement plan and everything! On top of that I’ve had friendships and relationships with people both within and without my comfort zone. Every one of them has contributed to my continued growth as a human being and as a writer.

No, I don’t dismiss my past spent not writing. I’m just especially driven now that I’ve finally figured out my time is best spent engaged in trying to be a successful author. I don’t think I was ever the natural born writer. I tried to keep writing after I finished college, but I found I had nothing to say. I guess I just needed to get some dirt under my fingernails. But now I find that saying things in prose is the most important thing I can do with my time.

And I love that. It’s rewarding in and of itself, but I freely admit it is not at this moment monetarily rewarding. 2013 and 2014 were years spent writing and spending money to support my jump-start into self-publishing. When Wayward Daughter was released and the omnibus put together and made available earlier this year, I saw little to no interest picking up anywhere. I had three books in a fantasy series out and no one seemed to notice. On top of that, I couldn’t seem to find my target audience. It isn’t that they were reading it and hating it – I just couldn’t seem to put the book in their hands. Most of my readers that don’t have at least some connection to me are (according to Goodreads anyway) women who read fantasy only because they either like Gabaldon or Martin or are looking for the next vampire sex novel. And I’m none of those things. I’m more in line with Glen Cook or Joe Abercrombie – speaking strictly content and narrative style, of course.

So, this year I finally faced what I had known from the start was waiting for me. With my meager savings depleted and my former careers well behind me, I took on a part-time job delivering pizzas and started severely curtailing my advertising budget as well as all other expenditures. I have entered (cue dramatic pause in whatever music you may be listening to) the Dark Days. These are (and will continue to be for a while yet, I’m certain) the times that will sorely test my mettle and determination as a writer. Can I keep it going in the face of profound reader apathy and surrounded by an increasingly large and somewhat suspect ancillary industry of self-publisher services? Will the car stay healthy enough to make delivery driving profitable enough to stay ahead of the bills? Will I ever appease The Donald? Stay tuned!

But seriously, it’s not as bad as all that. I’m just in my December mood. This month has always been tough for me. Something about it being so damn dark out all the time, I guess. I secretly don’t mind at all how people and businesses spend every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas in an orgy of forced glee. It actually helps. And all the lights are nice, too.

Anyway, the pizza delivery gig is actually not bad at all. Much more lucrative than I had imagined. At around 25 hours a week, I can support my relatively humble lifestyle and still keep writing. Also, I’m surrounded by supportive friends and family and I count myself incredibly lucky to have them. It helps me keep going. Although my productivity has certainly suffered from those halcyon days of yore when I was easily hitting 1K words a day writing Wayward Daughter, I’ve still been able to keep at it. Additionally, I’ve been writing this blog and have been active on Twitter and on blogs and forums related to the self-publishing industry. So, those are undeniably good things, no matter the Trump glare I get from the disappointing results of seemingly every promotion I run.

 

"Why do I even bother with you?"

“Why do I even bother with you?”

 

Why indeed? Because without the hard edge of the relentless definition of success that capitalism lays before our feet, which Trump embodies more perfectly than anyone I know, I would get soft. And I’m plenty soft enough. I don’t need to be softer. Please don’t take that as any sort of endorsement of his politics, because it definitely is not.

Well, that’s the wrap up. The year has been a struggle, but progress is being made on all fronts. Slow progress, but it’s both honest and interesting – two qualities I admire a great deal and are rarely found together. 😉

Happy New Year, everyone! Next week I’ll get back to giving away T-Shirts and telling you about how the Troubled King promo went and possibly making some New Year’s resolutions. I guess I should’ve done that last thing here, but I’m no slave to the Julian calendar. Fight the power!

Or not. Or maybe just not today. Whenever you get around to it. No biggee. In the meantime – eat, drink, review, tip!

P.S. And don’t forget to add yourself to the mailing list for the next T-Shirt draw!

 

Selling the real McCoy

I used to hate meeting new people. Throughout my teen years and into most of my twenties I was so scared of first impressions that I tried not to make any at all. This had the effect of creating the very negative opinion in people’s minds that I was an aloof snob who thought he was better than everybody. This was true, of course, but they had no way of knowing that at the time.

I’m kidding. It wasn’t true. I was firmly convinced everyone was smarter, funnier and more attractive than me, so I stayed shy. I expect most people, especially other writers, feel that way at one time or another while growing up, but I carried it with me for longer than I should have. This isn’t to say I didn’t make friends. I did. By being in the same classroom as others and then later in the same workplace, it became easy to talk to people about the the things we had in common – namely school or work. Eventually, when I’d become satisfied that someone wasn’t actively trying to avoid my company, a friendship might develop.

So, if you’re having trouble in that area yourself, that’s a good blueprint to work from. Later on, when you feel more comfortable with your prospective friend, you can show her your collection of locust husks and amateur hentai drawn with menstrual blood and mucus. ProTip: Be sure to have a waste basket, bottled water and a clean towel nearby, just in case.

 

"Just lift the lid carefully and try not to breathe in too fast."

“Just lift the lid carefully and try not to breathe in too fast.”

 

It wasn’t until I became a computer game designer that I started to embrace meeting new people. I was a little bit older, and with age comes a certain amount of “who gives a fuck” in regards to first impressions, but also because I had gained an enormous amount of self-confidence. Why? Isn’t it obvious? Did you misread what I wrote at the beginning of the paragraph? I was a computer game designer! I had the coolest job on the planet! Of course everyone wanted to meet me! In fact, I was pretty sure most of them wanted to be me!

Even though none of that was true, it didn’t matter. I believed that it was true, at least to some extent, so it gave me enormous self-confidence. I still suffered from my own peculiar brand of first impression jitters, namely that for an hour or two after meeting someone new I obsessively went over every word I said to them in my head, almost panic-stricken with fear that I came off as a jerk, doofus, douchebag, milktoast or somehow gay. Seriously, I still do this. I can now laugh at it while I mentally torture myself, but it still happens. Anyway, although that remains a small issue to this day, I was no longer, nor am I currently, encumbered with paralyzing shyness.

But the real reason was not that I thought I was so much cooler than the average middle class white guy, but that I had built something that I could talk to anyone about. I had a product to sell. Sounds greasy, I know, but bear with me. You see, I no longer had to sell myself to people based solely on such ephemeral things like my looks, brains or common lifestyle circumstances like work or school. No, I had a product that I built and was proud of and even wanted to sell you! The company I worked for, Mad Doc Software, sent me places to talk up the games we were making from time to time. I wasn’t terrible at it, but I’m certainly no salesman. No, what’s important here is that I went from a shy kid not wanting to risk meeting anyone to being a man who wanted to shake your hand and tell you all about this great game I got right here.

 

"MADE A COMPUTER GAME. IT DIDN'T SUCK."

“MADE A COMPUTER GAME. IT DIDN’T SUCK.”

 

And that’s still with me. My career in computer games may be over, but I’ve got a product I’m even more proud and excited to tell you about. The Grant Scotland series is fun, smart, snarky and its approach to fantasy is down to earth without being too dark and gritty. But how to tell everyone about it? When I was a computer game designer, I could go to game conventions and expos and find a ready audience of willing listeners. But now? Finding my audience has certainly proven far trickier. There are several reasons for this and all of them are legitimate and mostly beyond my control, but I’m not interested in throwing up my hands, saying “oh well, I tried, but you see of course how the whole world is against me” and admitting defeat.

I just recently had a brainstorming session with my marketing team – namely, my brother and his good-for-nothing, boozy friend (just kidding, Brad). We started talking about all sorts of ways to get the Grant Scotland brand out there. Some were good, some were ridiculous and some were just out of the question. The point where I draw the line is outright bribing people for Amazon reviews. The point came up that in order to be successful, you have to be willing to be a little unethical. I agreed that this was probably true, but there are limits. For instance, I would never give money to someone in exchange for a review. However, I would be willing to enter a fan who gave me a review (good or bad) into a contest for some free stuff.

See the difference there? I know. It’s subtle, but to me it’s important. Sure, there’s an ethical gray area I am more than willing to walk around in and make myself at home. That doesn’t mean I’d ever be willing to go full Trump and completely abandon my moral compass in some useless struggle to achieve success at any cost.

 

"Loser."

“Loser.”

 

One day I’ll stop punishing myself with that guy, but… IT IS NOT THIS DAY!

By the way, they never suggested I do any such thing. We just talked about it. We also talked about getting so drunk we’d get thrown out of the place we were eating. “Local author and associates cited for disturbing the peace” was a marketing strategy we toyed around with for a while. Hey, worked for Peter O’Toole, right? We decided to shelve that plan for the time being. Maybe plan ahead next time. Get some young and hungry local reporter to be on scene.

Anyway, the point is that I’m trying to be true to myself and at the same time sell you a great product. I’m a mediocre salesman at best, I know, but with a little time I’ll win you over. The product, after all, will do most of the work. 😉

Stay tuned! I’ve got a great holiday treat coming up soon. You won’t want to miss it!

So long! Be well! Review a book! Tip your driver!

 

 

Notes from the Self-Pubbed, (Issue #3)

Hello again, self-publishing fans! Welcome to another installment of Notes from the Self-Pubbed, the only self-publishing blog series (except for all the others, of course) that gives you the straight dope on this exciting and wacky internet cottage industry. Actually, although plenty of sites write about it, I haven’t found many that do so in anything but the most vague, self-promotional terms. I did, however, recently find this one. If you like this series, you should check her out as well. She does a good job cutting through the crap. That’s basically what I’m doing here, too. I am very deliberately not trying to sugar coat my self-publishing efforts. This is both for you and for me. If I keep saying things like “sales are steady” or “last week’s promotion increased sales over 200%” when what I really mean is “I’m selling the same 2 copies a week I’ve been selling all year” and “I sold 7 copies this week because I paid for some ad space,” then there’s a very real chance I’ll drink my own kool-aid and burn out and give up once I get tired of lying to myself.

So, I’ll try to keep these Notes as clean of bullshit as possible, no matter the pounding my ego may take. Writing is something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. Best to keep the fantasy for the fiction.

It’s important to remember that this industry (and this goes for both traditional and self-publishing, actually) is not for the feint of heart! It is not for the quitters! While it’s true that you may get lucky and publish something that becomes an instant bestseller, you most likely won’t. However, if you stay honest with yourself and keep writing, publishing, promoting, blogging, tweeting and doing anything and everything else you can then there’s a not unreasonable chance you’ll someday find your audience. But for self-pubbers, you’ll have the added benefit of having done it without having to give up any of your rights or split your royalties with anyone but your distributor. I think that’s worth the effort and the patience.

 

"I got a sword and this here crucifix-softball for anyone trying to steal my royal-ties."

“I got a sword and this here crucifix-softball for anyone trying to steal my royal-ties.”

 

And what precious data have my recent efforts yielded to me? Well, as you may recall, I was dead set on finishing my cross-platform promotion of the Grant Scotland series that I had begun in early summer. I had started with the newest book, Wayward Daughter, in July and achieved less than ideal results. In August, I promoted my first book, Dead Empire, and had an almost break-even return on investment. And at the end of September, I finished the campaign by promoting Troubled King at $0.99 for the week of 9/23 to 9/30 across Kindle/Kobo/Apple/Nook. I used three different advertisers, plus a small Facebook boost on the Grant Scotland Community Page. Let’s take a look at the set up cost:

Booksends newsletter ad space for 9/23 – $25

Booktastik newsletter ad space for 9/24 – $10

EReader News Today newsletter ad space for 9/24 – $20

Facebook community page promotional post boost for two days starting 9/23 – $5

Total marketing expense: $60

——————————————————————————————————————–

And lets take a look at those sales from 9/23 to 9/30:

Spy for a Dead Empire Amazon sales: 5 copies @ $3.99

Spy for a Troubled King sales: 33 copies @$0.99

Spy for a Wayward Daughter: 0 copies @$3.99

NOTE: All sales were Kindle. No other sales reported from other platforms to date.

Total Sales: $53

 

Well, we still didn’t manage to break even, but we came even closer than last time. That’s progress! I bet even The Donald has to acknowledge that!

 

"If I'm ever thinking of hiring you for anything, remind me to fire you first."

“If I’m ever thinking of hiring you for anything, remind me how much you need to be fired.”

 

Ouch. Truth hurts. Ok, fair enough. I guess I can’t claim any real success with this promotion or even with the entire summer campaign. I CAN however claim a lot of important lessons learned:

  1. Stop investing in advertisers that don’t yield satisfactory returns.
  2. Stop scheduling advertisers to run ads on the same day. This was an insight passed on to me by some smart marketing people I know, albeit too late to save the campaign, but it’ll be invaluable moving forward.
  3. It’s not yet time to break from the herd. As expected, Amazon sales FAR outweighed other platforms. Get back on Kindle Unlimited and utilize all that Amazon has to offer.

Oh. Almost forgot. Here’s the sales breakdown by date:

9/23 (Booksends & Facebook) – 9 units

9/24 (Booktastic/EReaderNewsToday & Facebook) – 25 units

9/25 (Nothing) – 1 unit

9/26 (Nothing) – 1 unit

9/27 (Nothing) – 1 unit

9/28 (Nothing) – None

9/29 (Nothing) – None

9/30 (Nothing) – 1 unit

It should be noted that I made an effort to promote the sale on Twitter during several days of the campaign, but I have no way of tracking the effectiveness of that. It’s curious that no sales were made on Apple/Nook/Kobo. It suggests that Fussy Librarian and/or Bargain Booksy has a substantial cross platform following that EReader does not. The dates I got sales on Nook correspond to the dates my ads appeared on both of those sites. Well, good stuff to keep in mind.

So, where to now? Well, I’m obviously going back to Kindle Unlimited with the first three books, but I think I’ll keep the omnibus edition present everywhere. Maybe see if I can sneak in a promotion with that one at some point. Beyond that, I’ll be scheduling some Countdown deals over the next few months and I’ll likely still do some advertising to correspond to the deal days, but I’m not sure how much at this point. Also, I’ve got something VERY special in mind for the height of the Holiday Season. I think you’ll like it. No hints, but you definitely don’t want to miss it.

Until next time, self-pub fans! Take care of yourself and remember to tip your driver!

 

Notes from the Self-Pubbed, (Issue #1!!!)

So, I recently took all of my titles out of the Kindle Unlimited program. No, this has nothing to do with Amazon’s recent adjustment to how it rewards authors for pages read on copies borrowed through the program. I’m actually alright with that and even curious to see how it works for my books. The last couple of months I was on the program I was starting to get more than a few borrows. So, I’ll eventually come back to Kindle Unlimited, but I wanted to conduct an experiment this summer and fall.

 

"Just needs a few Gamma Rays and then BAM! Bestseller..."

“Just needs a few Gamma Rays and then BAM! Bestseller…”

 

See, I’ve been using free giveaway promotions for the first couple of books in the Grant Scotland series, but I have a feeling that the self-publishing industry is no longer doing itself any favors by engaging in the practice. Conventional wisdom among self-published authors over the past few years has insisted that you give away your first novel or three in order to get your brand established. Indeed, there’s a lot of evidence that this worked well for many people from 2008 or so to 2012 or so. I don’t have stats for you. It’s largely anecdotal. People built a customer base in a market where demand outstripped supply and these days they can rely on those same customers to pay for more product since those authors are trusted and known suppliers.

These days, almost every self-published author uses this tactic. What this has resulted in is a giant glut of product into a marketplace that is still clearly growing, but could be over-saturated at the moment. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve heard speculation about that among authors – I think Bookdaily is where I read a couple of articles about it – who believe we may be shooting ourselves in the feet at this point. Customers have downloaded so many free books, they either can’t get to them all or are so eager to get through their TBR pile that they don’t give a book a chance before setting it aside.

My own experience so far would lend support to this. I’ve given away thousands of copies of Spy for a Dead Empire, but I have 12 reviews and hardly any sales at all outside of promotions. This means people either haven’t read the book or read it and discarded it OR read it and put my other books on their wishlist but will only download them when they’re free. The first two don’t bother me so much (well, ok – the second thing is worrisome) but it’s the third thing that has me the most frightened. In our rush to carve out our own audiences, we self-pubbers may have created our own monsters. After all, we share a great deal of readers, especially among genre authors. What if the e-book audience out there has become so used to getting free content, they just assume they’ll always get it for free? And they’ll wait to get it for free, too. Why? Because at least one of their favorite authors will be running a promotion at any given time. They can always find something free to read.

 

"Pay $0.99 for your book? Sure, because I really need another one of those..."

“Pay $0.99 for your book? Sure, because I really need another one of those…”

 

This is worrisome and makes me even more inclined to rush back into the protective arms of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. There, people can borrow the book for free, but I’ll still get paid if they read it. Actually, I’d get paid even if they only read some of it. But before I go gently into that good night, my plan is to do a full slate of $0.99 promotions across all the major platforms – Nook, Apple, Kobo and Amazon. (If you sign your book up for Kindle Unlimited, it can’t be listed with any other retailer) Just recently, I completed a week long promotion for Wayward Daughter, the newest Grant Scotland novel. I used two recommended promotion sites: Riffle Select and EBookBooster. EBookBooster is actually a service that submits your deal to a bunch (25, currently) of different promotion sites. Each of those sites have a relatively small following, though. Riffle has a good sized audience, though, and I’ve done well using them both together for my free book promos in the past. I figured I had built up enough of an audience from their collected mailing lists to have a reasonable chance at getting them to buy my latest installment on sale rather than getting it for free.

The ads through EbookBooster (I actually think only about half of the contacted 25 sites actually run the ads, to be honest) ran on July 22nd and Riffle added me to their newsletter on the 24th. The result was… not encouraging. I spent $25 on EbookBooster (still seems like a great deal, even if you don’t wind up on all the sites they submit your book to) and $40 on Riffle. I sold 7 copies of Wayward Daughter at $0.99 and 1 copy of Dead Empire at $3.99.

 

"I like authors who DON'T lose money during a promotion."

“I like authors who DON’T lose money during a promotion.”

 

Now, Wayward Daughter is still very new, so some consideration needs to go to that. I didn’t want to promote Dead Empire, since these were both mailing lists that contained readers who had seen that book appear for free at least twice over the past year. Didn’t seem right to try to get the ones who didn’t bite the first time to pay to bite this time. I could do Troubled King for $0.99 on those mailing lists, since I think they only saw it for free once. And I’ll probably do that, but my next step, I think, is to try new mailing lists with Dead Empire. There’s a couple I’ve never used that have received some good reviews from other authors. Sites like EReaderNews and Fussy Librarian. They require at least 8 reviews, which Dead Empire qualifies for, but my other two don’t yet. I plan on trying to rectify that by signing up for a blog tour, which usually generates some reviews. Although that might just generate more reviews for Book One than the others, but that seems to be unavoidable at this point. I’ll just have to remain patient with Book Two and Three.

So, my plan now is the bargain promo for Book One later in August. Then I’ll get Troubled King on the Riffle/EBookBooster promo in September. After that, maybe I’ll try Wayward Daughter again, but probably not. Maybe the omnibus. We’ll see.

Meantime, the writing continues. Book Four is outlined and a couple of chapters are done. Weekly word counts have decreased as I balance pizza delivery schedule with writing time, but when I sit down to write, I’m still as productive as ever, so that’s good. Thanks for your interest! Please read and review my books!