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.

 

——————————————————————————————————-

 

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

Want to see my author profile and my books on Amazon? Check it out!

Want to see more posts and tour the blog? Go to the Home Page!

Advertisements

$1.99 for The Unlikely Spy

For a limited time only! Actually, a very limited time. Like, just for today.

I actually began the $1.99 promo on Monday with a spot on BookBub’s International Distribution newsletter. I remembered to update the Grant Scotland Facebook community page, but not the blog. I sometimes forget that although the two crowds overlap considerably, they don’t overlap completely.

Anyway, the sale was supposed to end today, but I decided to extend it for one more day because of my gaff. Sorry about that. For those who have been following my (mis)adventures in self-publishing, it should be abundantly clear by now that my sales/marketing skills leave much to be desired.

Nonetheless, I persist.

So, by around about this time tomorrow the omnibus of the first three Grant Scotland e-books, The Unlikely Spy (an e-omnibus?), will go back up to $8.99 across all markets. So don’t delay! If you still haven’t checked out this fun, exciting and humorous fantasy adventure series then now is a great time to dive in and get caught up!

And how did the BookBub promotion go, you might ask?

Welllllll… we’ll talk about that next week. I promise. For now, if you’re a New Englander like me, today is a great day to burrow under some blankets and get some reading done.

 

 

——————————————————————————————————-

 

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

Review your book, tip your server.

Want to sign up for the mailing list and be eligible for the next giveaway? Sign up for the newsletter!

Want to see my author profile and my books on Amazon? Check it out!

Want to see more posts and tour the blog? Go to the Home Page!

A Sort of Roundup

I don’t usually do roundup type posts, but I have a few things to tell you about and none of them I felt I could stretch to fill an entire post, so I thought I’d rope them all together and herd them into a corral somewhere on this imaginary dude ranch I call a blog. So, giddy-up those little piggies. Do pigs giddy-up? I told you, I’m no expert at roundups.

Today is the last full day of Obama’s presidency and I hope he does something weird with it, like fill the Oval Office with testicle-shaped balloons or put glue in the First Stapler. You know, just go crazy with it. But seriously, I’ll miss the guy. I’m split about whether or not he was a great president, but he represented the USA very well with his style, grace and gravitas. Although his foreign policy left a lot to be desired and he spent most of his first term struggling with a muddied domestic message, history I think will be very kind to him based on the ACA alone. Yes, it’s a deeply troubled piece of legislation, but it’s the first of its kind and it took serious balls to get that thing passed and then defend it like it was the Alamo. Hopefully, the once impossible dream of national healthcare will remain a reality and will survive and evolve into something we can all be proud of. No matter who else in the future tries to put their name to it, it’ll always be to his credit in my mind.

Thanks, Obama.

 

obama_wave

“No problem. Be good. I’m outta here… I’m taking the jet with me, though. Trump’s got his own. He won’t mind.”

 

In other news, guess who landed a promo-spot on BookBub? ME! Yes, the most influential and successful email marketer of e-books finally selected my Grant Scotland omnibus, The Unlikely Spy, for a spot on their daily newsletter. As most of you probably know, I’ve performed several painful experiments over the past couple of years with other email marketers and came to the conclusion (along with basically every other self and traditionally published author) that BookBub is the only one truly worth it. The entrance price is steep, but everyone who has ever been featured on their newsletter has received a decent return on investment as well as a huge increase in distribution, at least for the length of the promo at any rate. How did I do it? Well, I told them the omnibus would be discounted down to a crazy cheap $1.99 for a few days and would be offered on Nook, Kobo and Apple as well as Amazon. I think that’s the killer combo they like to see.

I’ll update the blog/Facebook page/Twitter etc when the deal goes live.

I made some New Year’s resolutions. I committed myself to writing two short stories and the next installment in the Grant Scotland series by year’s end. One story is almost finished and the other is about 30-40%. The next Scotland book is all just notes for now, but there are ALOT of notes.

Oh, and I resolved to lose weight. Again. Sweet treats, this is tough! Word of advice to anyone still in their thirties – start adopting healthier eating habits than you had in your twenties. Your waistline will thank you in your forties. Your wallet, too. You’ll save a TON of money on the number of forklifts needed to move your gigantic ass around.

 

“Morning, Dan! Where would you like me to place your left buttock?”

 

And finally, the Adventures of Grant Scotland blog tour rolls on! Today, we’re being featured at T’s Stuff. Stop by and read an excerpt from Greedy Villain and a brief interview. Each blog I stop at has a little different dose of excerpts, guest posts and interview questions, so be sure to check them all out. You can find a list of all the stops here. FYI – Some sites have switched dates so you might have to hunt around a bit. You can also find updated  links to all the stops as they happen on the Grant Scotland community page.

That’s it! Are you ready for tomorrow? Are you ready for the next four years? Things are about to get real interesting, that’s for sure.

 

jurassic-park-33-hold-on-to-your-butts1

 

——————————————————————————————————-

 

“When you’re going through Hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

Reviewing and tipping is loving.

Want to sign up for the mailing list and be eligible for the next giveaway? Sign up for the newsletter!

Want to see my author profile and my books on Amazon? Check it out!

Want to see more posts and tour the blog? Go to the Home Page!

 

 

Grant Scotland on Tour!

That’s right! I’m taking The Adventures of Grant Scotland on a book tour! A virtual tour, that is. Online-like. Goddessfish Promotions has teemed with all of us (me) here at Dan McClure Publishing (the back office of my apartment) to launch the Grant Scotland franchise into the blogoshere.

For the next few months you’ll be seeing my books everywhere (not available in some locations) on the internet. So be sure to stay tuned to what’s happening both here and on all the sites that will be advertising and talking about the series. If you comment on the conversation on the participating blogs, you are automatically entered to win an Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Goddessfish!

I’ll list the sites and the tour dates that are currently booked below, but be sure to follow Adventures of Grant Scotland Facebook page and Twitter handle to get the most up-to-date tour info and links.

December 27: Books,Dreams,Life
December 29: Christine Young
January 3: The Avid Reader
January 5: Fabulous and Brunette
January 10: Kit ‘N Kabookle
January 12: Writers and Authors
January 17: Lilac Reviews
January 19: T’s Stuff
January 24: BooksChatter
January 26: Book Lover Promo
January 31: Sharing Links and Wisdom
February 2: Independent Authors
February 7: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
February 9: Edgar’s Books
February 14: Readeropolis
February 16: Hope. Dreams. Life… Love
February 21: Lynn Crandall
February 23: Dina Rae’s Write Stuff
February 28: CBY Book Club
March 1: Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
March 6: Hearts and Scribbles
March 8: Tina Donahue Books
March 13: Welcome to My World of Dreams
March 15: Reviews by Crystal
March 20: Book Giveaways
March 22: Queen of All She Reads
March 27: Am Kinda Busy Reading!
March 29: Harlie’s Books
April 3: Natural Bri
April 5: Long and Short Reviews

 

——————————————————————————————————-

 

The tour will be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it. There’s plenty of fun interviews, blog posts and book excerpts, so be sure to check out all the stops!

Prevent any further premature celebrity deaths – write reviews and give tips.

Want to sign up for the mailing list and be eligible for the next giveaway? Sign up for the newsletter!

Want to see my author profile and my books on Amazon? Check it out!

Want to see more posts and tour the blog? Go to the Home Page!

 

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!

 

Notes from the Self-Pubbed (Issue #4)

Well, the holiday season is in full swing and all of us here at Grant Scotland Enterprises are full of good cheer, not to mention copious amounts of scotch! But we’re not just celebrating the annual month-long feeding frenzy of consumerism nor the yearly visit of a conspicuously overweight Aelfan man of notoriously unstable temperament and questionable judgement nor even the secret pagan rites of the Winter Solstice festival.

No!

I mean, yes. All of that, of course. But also, no!

We are chiefly celebrating – and we’re really excited about this – our first Grant Scotland T-Shirt recipient! That’s right, ladies and gents! We have a winner! A verified winner! Someone who has actually succeeded at something! Right here in our very presence! Can you believe it?

But let me back up a second, if you don’t mind. We’ll bring our lucky contestant out later so we can gaze in admiration and swoon with adoration. First things first, though. Let’s talk business.

I just recently finished my first promotion of the holiday season and I wish I could say that everything went super terrific. In fact, it was just the opposite of that. What would that be, anyway? Unexceptionally inferior? Insignificantly awful? Ordinarily bad?

Ordinarily bad sounds about right. It has a certain sad-sack tone to it.

 

What is the sound of one clown crying?

What is the sound of one clown crying?

 

Anyway, I had decided on marching my promotion efforts sequentially through each Grant Scotland novel as the holiday season progresses, so I began with Spy for a Dead Empire. I bought advertising space on two ebook advertiser’s websites and newsletters during the first two days of a Kindle Countdown Deal. For those who aren’t familiar, a Kindle Countdown deal is a week long period of price-reduction (either graduated or not) where the publisher (me, in this case) signs his book up for participation in the 90-day Kindle Select program (which means Kindle Unlimited subscribers can borrow it and I get a little bit of money from borrowed pages read) and Amazon allows some additional internal promotional options. That may be a little much to take in all at once, but essentially it’s a deal with Amazon where I publish with them exclusively for a time and in exchange they help promote my book.

So, my Countdown Deal days were from November 23rd to the 30th. I tapped Booksends to run an ad on 11/23 and Booktastic on the 24th. Concurrently, I gave Amazon a budget of $100 to run pay-per-click ads on their site (you may have heard of it) for the period of 11/23 to 12/7. Let’s see the breakdown and the results:

Countdown Deal: Discount Spy for a Dead Empire @ $0.99 from 11/23 up to 11/27 and @$1.99 from 11/27 to 11/30.

Booksends newsletter ad space for 11/23 – $25 + $10 for EReader IQ partner newsletter

Booktastik newsletter ad space for 11/24 – $10

Facebook community page promotional post boost for two days starting 11/23 – $5

Amazon pay-per-click ad campaign 11/22 – 12/7 – $0 to $100 depending on results. Actual result was $75.56

Total marketing expense: $125.56

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

And lets take a look at those sales from 11/23 to 12/7:

Spy for a Dead Empire Amazon sales: 12 copies @ $0.99, 2 @ $1.99

Spy for a Troubled King sales: 0 copies @$3.99

Spy for a Wayward Daughter: 0 copies @$3.99

Spy for a Dead Empire borrowed pages read: 882

Spy for a Troubled King borrowed pages read: 271

Spy for a Wayward Daughter borrowed pages read: 1 (for real?)

Total Sales: $16

Royalties from borrowed pages read: (roughly one-half cent per page)  $5.77

Amazon pay-per-click stats:

Impressions: 104,519

Clicks: 95

Average Cost Per Click (aPCC): $0.80

Detail Page View: 103

Estimated Total Sales: (Resulting from same user clicking the ad and then buying) $7.96

Gross income (not adjusted for Amazon’s 30% cut on sales): $21.77

Net: -$103.79

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

 

YIKES! That’s awful! And highly unsustainable. What really did me in was the pay-per-click. I definitely was too competitive on that. An $0.80 cost-per-click is ridiculous. Maybe I’ll tone that down for Troubled King’s holiday promo. We’ll see.

The sales were so dismal that I don’t feel like including the daily counts. Most happened on the first day and then the rest happened sporadically, probably mostly attributed to Amazon’s click ad. Booktastic was notably horrible. Maybe resulted in one sale. Maybe.

Well, I don’t have to guess what my financial adviser has to say about this…

 

"When I'm president, remind me to deport you. Now, show me this winner you mentioned. I only want to talk to winners."

“When I’m president, remind me to deport you. Now, show me this winner you mentioned. I only want to talk to winners.”

 

Ah, yes! To the good news! The first week of our Grant Scotland T-Shirt giveaway is completed and the winner is….

JOSH PHELAN! That’s right! Josh Phelan is a WINNER!

 

He's actually wearing a Grant Scotland T-Shirt underneath his suit.

He’s actually wearing a Grant Scotland T-Shirt underneath his suit.

 

Congratulations, Josh!

I’ll shortly be contacting Josh via my fancy-shmancy newsletter (Sign up now and don’t miss next week’s giveaway!) to get his size and address. Soon he will be receiving his short-sleeved shirt just in time for winter.

I know, I know. Someday I’ll figure out how to schedule things appropriately… but it is not this day!!!

So long everyone! Tip your driver and review a book! Alternatively, you could tip a writer and review a driver, but we’re not equipped for that here.

 

Notes from the Self-Pubbed, (Issue #2)

In the last exciting issue of Notes from the Self-Pubbed, I had been disappointed in the results from my $0.99 promotion of Wayward Daughter, but had decided to soldier on and attempt a cross-platform $0.99 promotion for Dead Empire. Well, I did just that and was able to sign up not just two but three recommended book deal newsletters: EReader News Today, Fussy Librarian and Bargain Booksy(Free Booksy). I had used Free Booksy before, but had never tried their Bargain listing. The other two sites were completely new to me and only available for Dead Empire because it had received more than 10 reviews. Actually, EReader News says they don’t have a minimum review requirement, but since they had passed on Wayward Daughter and accepted Dead Empire, I am inclined to think otherwise.

Anyway, before I get to the results, about which I’m sure both of my readers are on pins and needles, (no, literally – I know you’re both part of a mental rehabilitation experiment for internet trolls, forced to read the most uninteresting blog on the internet while sitting on a chair whose seat is made of standing pins and needles… it’s just… well, I wanted to contribute to science in some way and… OK. Fine! It’s a paid trial and I volunteered my blog because I needed the money!) I wanted to point out something I had forgotten to mention last issue. I have actually done a few paid promotions before the ones I talked about previously. In fact, I’m pretty sure I ran them before I even had a blog. Mainly they were free giveaways and aimed simply at getting my books in front of as many eyeballs as possible. I talked about it in a somewhat dry (PINS!) and boring (NEEDLES!) fashion a little while ago. I just wanted to set the record straight that there was a Notes from the Self Pubbed issue before the first official one – HIGHLY collectible! Not worth much now, but when my audience reaches a critical mass and…

 

OK, Batman, OK. Sheesh! Like I'M the one who dwells too long on his own personal struggle. (Don't hit me)

OK, Batman, OK. Sheesh! Like I’m the one who dwells too long on his own personal struggle. (Don’t hit me)

 

So! To the Bat Stats!

I ran a week long $0.99 promotion for Spy for a Dead Empire from 8/19 to 8/26. The book was available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords. It’s also supposedly distributed through Smashwords to sites like FlipKart and OverDrive among others, but I’ve seen little evidence and even less sales to prove it. Anyway, here are the promotion expenses:

Fussy Librarian newsletter ad space for 8/19 – $23

Bargain Booksy newsletter ad space for 8/20 – $40

EReader News Today newsletter ad space for 8/22 – $20

Facebook community page promotional post boost for two days starting 8/19 – $5

Total marketing expense: $88

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

And lets take a look at those sales from 8/19 to 8/26 (PINS AND NEEDLES!!!):

Spy for a Dead Empire Amazon sales: 36 copies @ $0.99

Spy for a Troubled King sales: 2 copies @$3.99

Spy for a Wayward Daughter: 3 copies @$3.99

Spy for a Dead Empire Nook sales: 5 copies @ $0.99

Total Sales: $61

… and perhaps a sale or two from Apple and Kobo, but they haven’t reported in yet, so I have no idea. Maybe a sale or two, maybe not. But, in total, not bad. Certainly better than the last effort, but let’s check with the Donald:

 

"I only read authors who can turn a profit."

“I only read authors who can turn a profit.”

 

Wow. Rough, but I guess I always knew the Donald would be a tough one to please. Anyway, let’s look at the sales breakdown by newsletter run date. In previous promotions I had tried to stack newsletter run dates on top of each other to try to game Amazon’s ranking system, but there’s some debate whether that’s still possible. In prior years, you could push yourself up Amazon’s sales ranking by having a bunch of people download your book on the same day and get an additional advertising boost from Amazon, but it’s unclear if that’s still the case.

8/19 (Fussy Librarian & Facebook) – 8 total units

8/20 (Bargain Booksy & Facebook) – 14 total units

8/21 (Nothing) – 1 unit

8/22 (EReader News Today) – 17 total units

8/23 (Nothing) – 2 total units

8/24 (Nothing) – 2 total units

8/25 (Nothing) – None

8/26 (Nothing) – 2 total units

Well, EReader News Today definitely showed a return on investment. That’s pretty cool! It’s a little unclear about Fussy Librarian, but I know next-day sales are real, so it’s probably close to a wash. Bargain Booksy seems like it was more expensive than it was worth.

So, overall I’m still disappointed, but not disheartened. I briefly considered ditching the $0.99 promotion thing and fleeing back to Kindle Unlimited, but I think I’ll do one more cross-platform run for Troubled King. It’s almost certain it’s going to lose money, since I likely won’t get a spot on EReader News Today with the six reviews I currently have, but I gotta run it anyway. It’s the last promo I had planned for this round! I gotta do it! I may be losing sales and borrows the more time I spend away from KU, but this is my personal quest we’re talking here. I gotta get the ring to Mordor. Que music: Don’t say – I didn’t tryyy…

 

Thank you, Emmi. Seriously, this song makes me weep with creepy-haunted-haunts. Yeah, that's a thing. you can look it up.

Thank you, Emi. Seriously, this song makes me weep with creepy-haunted-haunts. Yeah, that’s a thing. You can look it up.

 

So, I’m planning the next promo for late September. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I’ll probably post some silly nonsense about tropes and shenanigans in popular pieces of film, TV and “print” in a jealousy-fueled, contempt-riddled attempt at comedy. Be sure to check back soon.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to tip your driver!

 

 

 

A new Adventure for Grant Scotland

The third book in the Adventures of Grant Scotland is now available! Spy for a Wayward Daughter can be purchased NOW at Amazon and Smashwords and over the next few days it will also arrive at virtual store shelves for Nook, Kobo, Apple and several other fine online e-tailers. Is that a thing? E-tailer? I can’t possibly have just coined that… (Google-y sounds) Nope. No, I didn’t.

Well, I already engaged in a massive bit of reflection in my previous post, so in honor of book three’s release, I’ll do the opposite. I shall with crystal ball and soaked tea leaves look into the future and divine what shall come to pass preordainedly. Is that a thing? Preordainedly? I don’t think so. Probably a good reason for that.

With three books out in our captivating adventure series, I have a good feeling about where the overall story is headed and am still excited to write about Grant and his world. So, look for book four by the end of the year. I can make that guarantee without even looking into the crystal ball, which is good because it shows a funny reflection of me that makes my chin look fat. I’ve been doing great with my diet recently and don’t need that kind of negative reinforcement. Stupid ball.

Like this, except my turban is WAY cooler.

Like this, except my turban is WAY cooler.

Also, I have decided to combine the first three books into an omnibus edition! I’ll put them together in a giant e-book and of course price the whole thing to be less expensive than buying all three individually. This will make the series much easier to get into for the teeming masses of Grant Scotland fans that will arrive, curious and adventure-starved, upon the nourishing shores of my prolific works in the years of success that are no doubt to come. See? Can you see that in the tea leaves there? Ah, well. Don’t be discouraged. These things take a certain amount of undefinable talent and desultory practice. Just trust me – I know what I’m doing.

The omnibus edition will most likely come out in a few weeks. Not much actual work to do on it, but I do have to figure out a title. If you’re interested in submitting an idea for a title, please join my contest on Grant Scotland’s Facebook page HERE. You can also just comment on this post. That would work, too. If I choose your title, you get a Special Thank You in the book’s Dedication or thereabouts and also a signed copy of the print edition, whenever I get around to actually printing editions. Contest rules and prizes are all meticulously spelled out, so don’t even bother trying to cheat.

Unless you can get away with it, of course. That’s the Grant Scotland way. 😉