Today is Cyber Monday. That means that you are likely out looking for good deals on various gifts for others, and maybe even yourself.
What is a better deal then free?
For today only Dissolution of Peace will be free on your Kindle! You can pick up your free copy here: LINK
Yesterday I did my first KDP Free Promotion. For those that don’t know, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has an option to sign up for KDP Select. This is a 90 day period where you allow Amazon (and by default Kindle) to be the only electronic form of your book sold. Some people balk at the exclusiveness this implies. But there are some pluses. You get to be part of the Kindle Prime Lending Library. This means that people can borrow your book for free and in return you get a part of the collective “pot” of money. I’ve not had any borrows yet. Some authors have told me that you get more borrows for higher priced books, since prime users can only borrow one book per month. I don’t know about that.
The other thing you get to do is pick five days per 90 day period to make your book free. You don’t have to do that. You don’t even have to pick the days when you publish your book. You can go back and set up your days when you want. You can do all five together or pick and choose a few days spread out. The choice is entirely up to you.
As you probably saw in yesterday’s post, I made Dissolution of Peace free in honor of Veterans day in the United States. It was free on all Amazon sites globally. I did this for two reasons. First, I wanted to see how well this KDP Free Promotions thing would work. Second, I have a special place in my heart for those that serve in the armed forces. It may even be why I enjoy writing military fiction. So I decided to honor those people in a way that was important to me.
The real question is, do promotions like this work?
Success is truly something only you can decide. But, I will show you what it did for me in just the one day since the promotion. You can decide from there if it could be successful for you.
I would also like to point out that I did not market my free book on anything other then this blog, my Twitter, and Facebook. I didn’t announce it on one the the many free eBook blogs. I just spread the word myself.
Getting Books in the Hands of Readers
The point in writing a book is to have it read. I’ve stressed that making money is not my goal in writing. My goal is to get readers and maybe get a few fans who want to read anything I write. So did the promotion get my book in the hands of readers. With out a doubt it is a huge success in that fashion.
In Amazon US, I had about 19 times more downloads yesterday then I have had since my book was released. Nineteen times more readers in one day then in the four weeks since my book was released.
In Amazon UK, I had 88 times more downloads yesterday then I have had since my book was released. The UK was phenomenal in this free promotion. I’ll get to more on that soon.
In Amazon Germany, I had 7 times more downloads yesterday then in the four weeks since it was released.
I even had my first download in Italy.
In comparison to other promotions I have done, this was by far the most successful. My own eBook giveaways resulted in only around 10 free eBooks being given away. This includes those sent to reviewers. But if I wanted to get more readers, this was certainly a great way to do it. They may not read it right away, I am sure there are people who just won’t pass up free, but there a whole lot more people with copies of my book now. This means there are a lot more people in the pool to write reviews, tell their friends, and look for future titles I release.
Creating Awareness of my Book
This is a really hard thing to do. Getting your book noticed by potential buyers is very hard for any author, especially the indie author. You are fighting an up hill battle with major authors, major publishers, and the rest of the indie market. It is not easy to be noticed.
One way to get noticed is on Amazon’s Best Seller Lists. The thing that always frustrated me about many “help” sites that talk about these best seller lists don’t let you know the secrets to getting on the lists. The truth is the secret is simply getting sales. But Amazon does one great thing here. The Best Seller Lists of the Top 100 eBooks sold is listed right next to the Top 100 Free eBooks. Number 5 in sales is right next to number 5 in free.
This means that when someone is looking for the best sellers on science fiction ebooks, they are also seeing the best sellers in free science fiction ebooks. You still have to get the downloads to get on the list, but you can get a lot of benefit once you get on the list. If nothing more than getting the cover of your book seen by more eyes.
I mentioned how great the UK was in this free promotion. The first time I checked my Amazon UK page yesterday was at 10:16 in the morning. My book had only been free for ten hours, which is a fair amount of time, especially considering the time difference. But at that point I was #48 on the Top 100 Free Science Fiction eBooks. And by the end of the promotion I was #19. In that time I had been on the same page as H. P. Lovecraft, Jules Vern, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, and more. I was even next to George R.R. Martin at one point. That is some good company to hang out with, even on a virtual level.
In the US, it was a slower start. This, in part, has to do with two factors. First, the US site has a much larger pool of shoppers. They include India, and many other places that don’t have their own sites. But, KDP free events also start at 12:01 am Pacific time. Right when most of the US is still asleep. But by 12:45 pm, twelve hours into the the promotion, I was on the top 100 list at number 61. And by the time it was over, I had made it to 28. So while the UK really came through on the Best Seller’s list, the US still put me along side the great names of Science Fiction past and present.
I would say that overall that is a successful way of gaining exposure to my book. I don’t know how many people browse the Top Sellers list. But I do know that I often look for books online this way. So overall even if I didn’t get downloads, people saw my book cover. And book covers are the brand image of books. Like all brands, the more the image is seen the more it becomes known and in some cases trusted.
You might be wondering where my book ranked at in the over all ranking for Free eBooks. In the US it was #779 and in the UK it was #425. Not bad considering how many thousands, probably millions, of books are on Amazon.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth advertising is probably some of the best. People often choose books based on the recommendations of friends and family. While I doubt anyone recommended my book the same day they downloaded it. I got far more downloads then I have Facebook, Twitter, and Blog followers. This means people had to hear about it from other people. So people were at least mentioning my book. I also noticed that many people were downloading my book in the US before it broke on to the top 100 list. So they had to find it some other way.
But this huge pool of new readers who downloaded my book will contribute to the word of mouth advertising that will continue to increase traffic to my book. And will hopefully increase my sales volume.
I don’t know if this will increase my reviews. Before the promotion I had two Amazon reviews, and one Amazon UK review. But, the increased reader pool also means an increased reviewer pool. So that has to cause a higher chance of being reviewed. But only time will tell on this.
Again, only time will tell on this. But my point has never been to get money. Some people see the free book giveaway as nothing but lost revenue. But to date, nothing has got Dissolution of Peace in the hands of more readers than the Amazon free promotion. I’ve never thought of writing as a way to make money. For me it is has been about readers, and maybe making enough money to cover the costs associated with publishing it. Would I complain if my book starts flying off the shelves? Of course not. That is the goal of most writers, but not for the sake of money but for the sake of the volume of readers.
From what I have heard from others, the sales will increase but that takes time.
I can’t really see it any other way. KDP has hit a home run with the idea of allowing authors five days to make the book free. And if you use those days through out your 90 day period as a promotional tool, you can really gather a lot of new readers. And many readers who might not have otherwise picked up your book. I’ll likely do another two or three of these free promotional things in the next few months. I see nothing but success here. And if I enjoyed this much success with limited announcement outlets, imagine if I branched out from my circle of followers.
Of course, many people are turned off be the exclusiveness of KDP Select. They feel like they are excluding a market of readers that use other eReaders. Personally I have had little request for ePub format. But, 90 days is a relatively short time. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to renew it. Personally I think it is worth a try.
So I have been trying to sell copies of Dissolution of Peace now for almost two weeks. And I am discovering a few things that I didn’t expect to discover along the way. I know I have touched on some of this before when I wrote “Is Anybody Out There?” but that was more about making a plan for marketing. This is more about what I am learning that may surprise some of you.
I’ll go ahead and start with common questions about marketing books and give you my answer two weeks in.
Do giveaways work?
The short answer is that I don’t know yet. I’ve done a giveaway on Goodreads for Daddy is Tired. I did it at the recommendation of another who told me it really worked for him. So far, I’ve not seen any boost in sales. In fact I think I’ve sold one copy total since that give away ended at the end of September. So I am not sure how it “works” but it didn’t for a children’s picture book.
I’m running two giveaways for Dissolution of Peace. One ends at the end of October, the other ends at the end of November. Surprisingly the one on Goodreads seems to be getting a lot less reaction than the one on my Facebook page. There is one advantage to the Facebook Page give away. Both my Twitter and Facebook followers have gone up significantly. Though that hasn’t translated into sales. We will see what happens come the end of the giveaways.
I did two other giveaways. I gave away fifteen free copies of Dissolution of Peace for Kindle on Twitter, of which only one was ever claimed. I did the same on Facebook, giving away ten copies. Two were claimed. Not exactly a very strong presence there. My hope was to get twenty-five copies of my book out there and hopefully get ten reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads. I’ve not had any reviews (from the giveaway) on either one.
Based on these numbers, you might think that giveaways don’t work. To be honest no one has ever really told me how they work to get sales. They just tell me it works. So Perhaps by the end of the year I will see an increase in sales. The giveaways don’t cost me anything. The eBooks are free. And the signed paperbacks will cost me less than $20 when I factor in the shipping charges. So when you consider how little it costs, it is worth a shot. But if you try something, like my eBook social media give away, and it doesn’t work. Don’t repeat failure. Even if it cost you nothing monetarily, it will cost you your time.
The good thing about Raffle Copter (which I am using to give away one signed paperback) and Goodreads giveaways, is that it doesn’t cost you but a few minutes of time. And, like I said, I am getting new followers as result. That may be of significant value later.
Does Posting to Facebook or Twitter work?
I suppose this is the new form of word of mouth. Word of mouth advertising does work. But only if it is done correctly. But I will clue you in on some surprises I learned.
First, don’t count on people to share it. All the people I thought were certain to share it, some who were even instrumental in helping create it, have not shared it once. Many of these people are fellow authors, whom I have promoted heavily myself. Of course, I didn’t promote them expecting them to do the same. Though I did kind of hope they might. Most of them I promoted well before my novel came out. There are some I have even promoted their business (they are not authors) and they haven’t shared my book either.
But, there is an upside to this. I have had complete strangers share my book, mostly on Twitter. These are people who recently jumped on and followed me. In fact, one person who follows me retweeted it and then five or six people who don’t follow me also retweeted it. Facebook on the other hand has been all shares from family or friends. I appreciate everyone who shares it, and I try to help them out when I can. But remember, just because you help someone else out, don’t expect it in return. The deal here is that you should share what you want and other will share what they want. Even though it is disappointing when family and friends don’t.
Facebook groups are another way of spreading the word. Two things to remember. First, don’t break the groups rules. Your post will just get deleted. Two, don’t expect much from it. I belong to several writing Facebook groups. The problem is, all of them are so flooded with self promotional posts, that mine rarely stay within a readable number of posts for more than an hour. Also, I’m not sure how many people are actually reading what others post there, versus just posting themselves. Some even seem to post every hour or so. Which is bullshit if you ask me. They are spamming the feeds just to keep their book on top. I’ll get more on spamming later.
Okay, I’ll talk about spamming now. If all you post on Twitter or Facebook is your novel. You won’t get anywhere. It doesn’t take long before people tune you out and/or unfollow you. Personally I only post about my book a few times a day. And lately it has been cut back to just once. I post about other topics: Jokes only I think are funny, blog posts that helped me, Plasma Frequency, the NHL lockout, and more. I also comment on other people’s posts, try to answer comments on mine, reply to tweets, and retweet things that I liked. All of these things make me a human being. Not a constantly tweeting about my book robot. I think that is equally important as getting the word out about your books. After all, if you lose followers, what is the point of tweeting to an empty room.
Think of it this way. If every time one of your coworkers, friends, or even family members saw you, all you said was “Buy my book. It is on Amazon.com and it is great.” How long before you wouldn’t see them again? Of course you will tell your friends about your book, but I am sure you talk about other things. The same should be the case on Facebook or Twitter. Be a real person and you might wind up with more results and more help for your followers.
What to you thing about Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising?
First of all, PPC advertising works on a the principle that a site puts up an advertisement and when someone clicks on it you pay a per click fee. Many places let you bid on the per click rate. Lower bids mean you are not shown as often as larger bids. You can usually choose who you target and even set up limits per month.
Right now I am using Goodreads. From all the research I have done, Goodreads is supposed to be better at targeting readers than Facebook or Google PPC ads. I have three ads. One for the Paperback targeting US readers of Science Fiction 16 or older. One for the Kindle Version targeting US readers of eBooks and Science Fiction 16 or older. Last, I have a Paperback/Kindle ad targeting UK readers of science fiction 16 or older. All three ads are in one campaign. I pay 20 cents a click for one, the other two I pay 10 cents per click. I started the ad on the 16th in the evening. So in about four days I have had 3,500 views. Views just mean it came up on the page, it doesn’t mean anyone actually saw it. Of all those views I have had two (2) clicks, both in the UK. And both UK clicks resulted in zero new UK sales.
The good news is you can change your ads any way you want until you find one that gets you more clicks. I recommend you send the clicks to Amazon or Barnes and Noble for sales. This is because it eliminates extra steps to get your book sold. The real trick if making an ad that really catches readers attentions. Though part of this falls on Goodreads. Frankly they put the ads in a terrible spot. That even on my large screen, I have to scroll down to see them.
The bad news is, I dumped $90 into this PPC campaign based on recommendations from others that Goodreads PPC ads really jump started their book sales for the first 30 days. At this rate, it will take me a long time to burn up $90. So learn from my mistake and start with a smaller number. Then once you find an ad that gets you a lot of clicks, you can increase. Another tip: Keep in mind how much you make in profit on each sale. If you make $0.30 per eBook sale and you bid $0.30 cents per click. Someone would have to buy on every click just to break even. $0.10 is the lowest you can bid on good reads. So if you book is less than $1.99 you’re expecting a lot for the ad.
Here is the thing, I think PPC can work. But you have to stay on top of it. You have to find an ad that works, and that means watching the numbers and changing the ad until you get clicks. And then hopefully clicks will turn into sales.
What about website advertising?
I don’t know. I haven’t tried it yet. I contacted one site that had a really good deal with a few questions. That was a week ago and they never answered me. So I’ll continue to look around. The think on website advertising is you want to find a site that attracts readers of your genre.
What about print/magazine advertising?
Although I have not tried it. I know this works. If you put your book in a fiction magazine for your genre you will get the word out there about your book. The readership numbers matter. This is why if you want to advertise in some of the bigger science fiction magazines, you will pay a lot for it. Smaller presses charge less, but you get less readers.
Book Reviews / Author Interviews?
I’m in the process of getting a few book reviews. But finding sites to do it is a lot harder than I ever thought. Many have “closed” because of overload. Many more have lengthy lead times. One who has accepted my book has already told me it could be 8-12 weeks. Another is reading it now, and two more have put me on “the list”. But these book review sites have readers. I don’t agree with paying for a review. The most I am willing to do is provide a free book.
Author Interviews. I have not done any of these yet. And it seems that the only places I have found that do them, charge for them. So I don’t know.
It the end, blog reviews and author interviews are another form of word of mouth. Word of mouth works, it is proven in multiple industries.
Amazon or Goodreads reviews. The thing with these is to be prepared to have to beg for them. Just getting people to like the book or add it to a shelf has been nearly impossible. Then asking people to do the Tags thing on Amazon has been impossible. Over all it has been a nightmare. But the truth is, people don’t buy things on Amazon that haven’t been reviewed. And the more reviews you can get the better people will feel about paying for your book. But it takes time. People have to read your book. And after they read the book they have to feel the need to go back to Amazon (or Goodreads) and rate it. Many readers aren’t that motivated to do all that. If they are active on Goodreads, that site does a good job of integrating at least a star rating into the experience of the reading progress. But there is nothing to encourage someone to go to Amazon.com and review your item. The encouragement could be that the book was so good they have to say something or it could be it was so bad they had to say something. More often they have to be encouraged by someone to do it. That someone being you.
So does marketing work?
Many authors will tell you that they have seen no benefit in marketing. This is because, like me, they have a preconceived notion that buying an ad automatically equals sales. Or that all their friends and family will share their book. Or that giving a few books away will mean that everyone who didn’t win will go buy it. The truth is far less. Advertising takes a tone of work and it takes a lot of time before it really takes off. The truth is most of us are not marketing geniuses and advertising becomes a trial and error. And since books vary as much as their authors, it is also possible that what you try won’t work for you but will work for me.
The best thing to do is to keep at it. Spend just a little money until you know what works. Invest your money wisely. As I learn more about what works for me, I’ll share it with you all.
Book Release Announcement
I am pleased to announce that I finally have a release date for Daddy is Tired, the children’s book my son and I wrote over a year ago. On June 28th, Daddy is Tired will be officially released for sale on Amazon.com. But, I got good news for you all. You can order now on Createspace and get a special discount (see below). Everything the book makes goes directly to Cinco and I really hope to encourage him to continue his pursuits of writing and the arts. So take a moment to share the links below and share this wonderful book. It is a great, fun early reader that I feel parents and children can relate to. Now, a little about the book:
Daddy is Tired
Authored by Richard “Cinco” Flores V, Illustrated by Lorikitty, Authored with Richard Flores IV
Full Color on White paper
BISAC: Juvenile Fiction / Readers / Beginner
Daddy is Tired is a children’s picture book about a dad who wants to rest while his son would rather play. Dad hopes for a little nap, but his son just wants to play.
This book was written by Cinco, at five years old, in one of his own quiet time sessions. Of course his dad didn’t get to rest either, he had to help.
Use discount code: 78VZNJ65 to get 10% off. This code will only be good until the book is released officially on June 28th, 2012. Feel free to share the link (https://www.createspace.com/3671972) and discount code with everyone you know.
Click here for the Amazon Listing.
In other news, I have been hard at work getting the Print Edition of Plasma Frequency Magazine Issue 1 ready for it’s release. I am working on advertising spots now, and there are still a few spots available for this issue. We have been hard at work on the layout. And, once the print edition is final, we will begin work on the Kindle Edition. One great thing in the subscriptions are coming in all over the world. We have subscribers in the US, Singapore, the UK, Denmark, Canada, and elsewhere. So I am excited about the release of Issue 1. Here is the cover art by Tais Teng and it is inspired by “Frequencies” by Michael Hodges.
Of course, we are hard at work on reading for Issue 2 now. And this has left me little time for much else. I suppose the if I wish to get more of my own writing done, I will need to seek more volunteers to help me with the reading, artwork, layout, and advertising. All of which take a lot of work.
I still don’t have cover art to show you for Dissolution of Peace. But, I suspect it will be released in Late August. I plan to have an official release date in the July updates.
My novel in progress has ground to a halt. Mostly because of all my other life commitment. The Magazine, my volunteer activities, and my job keep me pretty busy most of the time.
No new short story acceptances to report either.
So that is the June Updates. See next week for my next blog post, not sure what Topic I will choose though.
It is funny that most people ask me the question: Should I self publish or should I try the traditional publisher? There are other options for publishing your book that just those two options. We’ll explore some of those with this post. I’ll give you my thoughts on each of these, and you can give me your thoughts in the comments.
The Conglomerate Publisher
We like to say “Traditional Publisher” but truthfully traditions are changing and the term doesn’t really fit anymore. And, truth be told, traditional publishing can be divided up. So we’ll talk about the conglomerate publisher. These are the big guys in publishing. Orbit Books, Tor, Del Rey, Bantam, Baen, and Scholastic are just a few examples. And, if you look most of those up you will find a parent corporation they are under. The parent corporation often has a number of press names they use depending on the genre. They employe a ton of editors, copywriters, printers, and basically just a lot of employees that work to publish books.
Advantage: Well they are the big guys. Land a deal with them and you are likely to get exposure in a wide market area. They will handle most of your book’s marketing. They have the ability to print out mass copies. They may offer you a higher advance and royalties too (maybe).
Disadvantage: Getting accepted is hard. Many talented authors spend a lot of time just to get rejected from these guys. Nearly everybody submits to them. You often have to sell off a lot more copies to pay off your advance (they have a higher overhead then any other option). Even if you do get published you tend to find that it takes a long time to get anything going. And, I see a lot of people published by these conglomerates that are still marketing the heck out of their own works. The other HUGE disadvantage is that authors often think getting published by these guys guarantee a hit novel, it doesn’t. Plain and simple these guys can do little to make you any better of a writer and story teller.
The Mid-level Publisher
A lot of sites go straight from Conglomerate to Independent when they talk about types of publishers. But there are a few mid-level publishing companies. These companies may be only big in one genre, or maybe are big in one country. The main difference here is that they tend to publish more books then the independent publisher, but not as many as the conglomerates.
Advantage: They handle the major marketing. They can produce a moderate amount of books at one time. They offer you a good advance and royalties. They tend to have a smaller overhead which means more profit margin and hopefully more money in your pocket.
Disadvantage: Acceptance is still hard. Exposure is not as big, but in the days of the internet and Amazon it is getting much better. There can still be lengthy delays from acceptance to publish date.
The Independent Press
This is often confused with someone who sits in their basement printing books. That is not the case. These are simply smaller companies working to publish books. They tend to specialize is a genre or two. They often only have one or two editors (sometimes more). They often don’t work to make huge profits. Sometimes they are Sole Proprietorships (one owner) or Partnerships. But many are now LLC, LLP, or even incorporating.
Advantages: Acceptance times are often faster. They are far more approachable. They will market your book as well. And, with the internet as big as it is. They are often on the virtual shelves of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and their own private stores. They often pay lower advances but higher royalties (though not always). It often takes less sales to “burn off” the advance and start earning royalties. They are in the business of getting good writers out to the readers that other presses are simply over looking. But, you will find more and more authors are going with smaller presses to get their voice heard. First, you still have to market your book no matter what way you go about this. Here you get a little help. Plus, even if your Novel is rejected. The smaller presses are far more likely to tell you why. Giving you a chance to fix the mistake and try again.
Disadvantage: They simply aren’t the big guys. Most don’t stock book shelves of brick and mortar book stores. But, some do. But with how many books are purchased on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. It is starting to be irrelevant. Last, many authors worry about using a Independent press simply due to brand recognition factors. But, I frankly never looked at who published a book until I started writing. Most readers don’t care who published it, only how the story is written.
A vanity press is often confused with a Independent Press. But they are vastly different. A vanity press publishes almost every thing they are sent, provided you cut them a check. That’s right. You pay them to publish your book. They offer many of the services other presses offer, editors, marketing, ect. But you have to pay for it. They slap a publishers name on it and sell it. They came is to play when self publishing was hard, and carried a much more negative image then it does today.
Advantages: Frankly it is hard for me to think of any. Money should always flow in the direction of the author. I suppose if you wanted to self publish, but didn’t want to let people know you did it. This is the way. But why?
Disadvantages: It’s a rip off. Frankly they over charge for just about everything. You may as well hire a good independent editor, and publish it yourself. Or better yet, give a few of these Independent Publishers a shot and not have to pay a dime.
This is just as it sounds you self publish your works. You pay for the cover art (or make it yourself), you solely market, you format it on Createspace, KDP, or where ever. You are the publisher of your own book.
Advantages: No middleman to work with. You get final say on everything. You do it all. You are guaranteed to get published.
Disadvantages: You do it all. Self publishing is the most underestimated form of publishing. It is by far the most work. You have to pay for an editor (and you really need to do that if you plan to self publish and maybe even if you plan to use a different method). Sure you could just take your story, look it over and then throw it together on KDP and tell you friends to go buy it. But, is that really getting published? Or just perpetuating the stereo type that nothing good is ever self published? Of everything I mentioned here, self publishing is the hardest.
You can see there are a lot of options, you can choose what works for you. I strongly recommend that you look at them all. I think Independent Presses give you the best balance between self publishing and “traditional” publishing. That is just my opinion though. Perhaps in another post I’ll highlight a few independent presses that specialize in certain genres. If you know of one, visit the contact page and let me know.