Tag Archives: book promotion

KDP Select Versus EReader News Today — Post by Mary C. Findley

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This is a very informal and unprofessional comparison of Amazon’s KDP Select and the bargain book placement on Ereader News Today.  

I published an ebook In October of 2012 called A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist. My first problem was how to categorize it. It is fiction, and is a decidedly Christian book. It also features characters from classic authors like Dickens, Alcott, Kipling, and others. So I call it a Literary Tribute, but it also falls into a category that is unusual for Christian books. That category is Steampunk. At the time, Amazon didn’t have a Steampunk category, so I put it down as sci fi and Christian adventure, basically. I also enrolled it in Amazon’s KDP Select program.

That means I got 5 days to promote it free, plus I also produced an illustrated version of the same book and offered that free as well. So I had 10 free days between the two books during about 105 days (I put the illustrated version out about 2 weeks after the plain version.)

On the free days, I got a total of about 1500 downloads of the book. I also now have 17 reviews. I have been told the main reason for doing free days is to get reviews but most have come quite a long time after the books were free. I know that people load free books onto their Kindles and forget about them. I do that too. But I still was a bit disappointed in the results for having the books in the KDP select program. Blame it on the genre or whatever circumstances, but I elected not to continue in Select and submitted them to Smashwords for distrbution as soon as the 90 day periods were up.

Since that experiment I have put the plain version on sale for 99 cents a couple of times, and it has sold an average of 4-5 a month. Since it is in a fairly niche category (Steampunk is now an option, and it was still under Christian Adventure, it would show up in the top 100 for its category about every other month. I thought that was pretty good, considering a lot of the time, when I tell people, “I am writing a Steampunk series,” they say, “What’s Steampunk?”

I had been hearing for some time that people were getting their books placed on Ereader News Today, or ENT. That’s a site that has a very large following of people looking for free or 99 cent books. They invite authors to submit books for possible listing. As soon as I had 10 reviews averaging 4-5 stars (that’s a requirement) I started submitting the book to the site requesting to be listed.

Author friends all around me seemed to be getting theirs listed without too much delay, and they got some great results. But three email requests and about 8 months later, I was still waiting. I had been submitting the book as SciFi, and that seemed not to be working, so I tried Christian Fiction, and that finally worked. So I had my day on the site February 11 of this year.

Just before the book went up on the site, I changed a category to try to capitalize on the book’s inspirational character. But imagine my surprise when it started to show up in the top 100 of the category Metaphysics and Visionary. Wow. Where did that come from? Here’s an image of stats fairly late in the day. I missed the one where it pushed into the top 4500 in the store.

dodge 1 1 and 4 in scifi categories

It got up to #1 in two Science Fiction rankings, and #3 in that Metaphysical category. Today, two days later, it’s still on three top 100 rankings, though it’s slipping a bit, but I’m still pleased.

Some of my author friends said when their book was on the site they got 300 or more sales, and continued in the hundreds afterward for at least a few days. Now it’s time for a reality check. My sales for the month of February for that book  total, if Amazon is up to date, 54. So it was a failure, you ask? I don’t think so. As I said, it’s a very niche genre. I’m waiting to see if there is review fallout over those odd category rankings. At one point it was about #7 in the top 100 of a nonfiction inspirational category. Oops. It’s not nonfiction. From selling at most 5 a month, I have gone to selling over 50 a month. 10 times the sales. So it seems to me that that’s at least respectable. And it’s continuing to sell, when it hadn’t been at all for the last couple of months. Visibility on the ENT site and high rankings on Amazon seem to have done it some good. This is an image from this afternoon, two days and a bit later.

dodge 2 13 2014 rankings

If your book is priced at 99 cents, Ereader News will bill you 25% of copies sold on the day it’s featured. Amazon charges you more than that just to sell it on their site anytime. When your book is free under the KDP program, you have to go around to the hundred or so sites that promote free books and notify them yourself. All Ereader News today asks is that you share and tweet their site link for your book, and that you like, and ask others to like, the post on their facebook page. It’s certainly a lot less work, and you are still getting some money for the book, rather than the nothing you get on KDP Select free days.

So how did I feel about getting to number 1 in Steampunk, and about 4500 in the whole Kindle store with a book that is about as far from Contemporary Romance (the easiest genre to get people to buy) as you can get? Giddy. Excited. Happy.

But more importantly, I hope we extended our reach. That’s what we really hope to do with all our books. More than fifty people now own one of our books who didn’t before. We even sold a couple of print copies, and we almost never sell any of those.

In the back of that book are small samples of all our books, and a link to our blog. They can read more about us, and understand our purpose, which is “speaking the truth in love.”

We want to reach more people with the message of the authority of God’s Word, and our “tough but you need it” perspectives on education, current events, and biblical teaching. We want them to know that we have books for almost everybody’s taste — historical fiction, sci-fi, homeschool curriculum, issues nonfiction, illustrated. There’s a bit of romance, a bit of mystery, and books for all ages.

I don’t feel like I did the work in this endeavor. I wrote the book, but that was a year and a half ago. I didn’t exhaust myself submitting to a ton of sites (KDP), spend a ton of money (most paid advertising), or obsessively check my sales and stats all day. (Well, maybe I did do those last two.) I was happy when I shared the stats and people said they were going to check out the book. I hope people like my book and I get good reviews.

Most of all, I hope this lets us have a little bigger opportunity to reach people with a message I think is very needed. God loves the unlovely. God can save anybody. Evil doesn’t have to overcome good. People can come from all kinds of backgrounds. Orphans on the streets, servants, princes, cowgirls, merchants, jungle trackers — those are the kinds of people who came together in A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist to form the Alexander Legacy Company. And God started a great work through them to try to free slaves and overcome slavers. Here’s hoping this is also just the beginning of Findley Family Video’s work to bring a message that God frees people from sin, all kinds of people, and that we don’t have to lose the fight for our country, for our freedom, and for men’s souls.

Don’t forget, the CIA Blog Hop “Love Is … ” is still going on. You can comment and receive a copy of Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion here on our blog. Or you can win a bunch of books by good authors over there. Hop, hop, hop!

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Findley Family Video’s Publishing Journey

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my books 2013

A sweet blog reader was kind enough to say she’s been following us for some time now, and likes our writing and content, and also the way we promote our books. She asked about how we publish, and also how we promote, so here, I hope, is an answer to that question. I’m including links to other blog posts I’ve written about publishing where they apply.

We have been writing for over 30 years, but publishing about 4. So our publishing experience is not vast. But we do everything ourselves at this point, from writing, to editing, to formatting and cover design and actual uploading to publishing sites. Here’s a post on the mechanics of preparing and publishing an ebook. Part Two: Make It Clean, Get It Out

We use Amazon and Smashwords for the ebooks and Createspace for the print books. So far we only have a few print books but we will be doing more soon. Our philosophy of publishing is to make our works available as inexpensively as possible and that’s why we started with ebooks. Here’s a post I wrote on our philosophy of e-publishing. The Hows (And Whys) of E-Books

I was an editor for a publishing company and feel confident about my self-editing at this point. Here’s a blog post I wrote about things to look for when editing. Righting Sew Reel Ayes Reed Passed Yore Tie Till We also have worked as videographers and have graphic design experience, so I make our covers. The program I use for that is Photo Impact from Corel. Here’s a post on book covers Part 2 1/2: Cover It Beautifully .That has been a journey, and you can see how my skills have progressed at our Findley Family Video Facebook page, under the photos section, where our stages of cover design are stored. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Findley-Family-Video/149992491693629?sk=photos_stream I also have illustrated versions of some of our books. Here is a blog post I wrote about a site where all the images are offered free by the photographer, and about our latest cover redesign. Dressing up for the Holidays: Free Images to Help You Make Ebook Covers

We write and format our books in Microsoft Word, following the Smashwords Style Guide for ebooks, which is free on their site and on Amazon. Other writers have suggested using writing and book design programs but we are keeping it simple for now.  Here’s another post on ebook creation and publishing. Part Three: Your Book, Where It Should Go, How It Will Look

Now for the hard part — Promoting. I have a Goodreads and a Library Thing account. I have two Twitter accounts, a Google + account, and between us we have 3 facebook pages and two personal pages, plus I have a Pinterest account. I spend a fair bit of time networking with other authors on facebook. I try to share and tweet and promote their works as much as I can. I belong to several author groups on facebook and we exchange advice and promotions. We also have this blog, which has all our books linked to Amazon and Smashwords.

The blog posts get tweeted automatically when we publish, and most of our blog followers have come from Twitter. Some also come from facebook. Some come from search engines. I always include tags when I post a blog, subjects the blog is about, and we get a lot of blog hits on our Bible-related posts. One of the things people have said they like about us and our blog is that it’s not always about writing. Sometimes we post guest blogs and book reviews and talk about our books, but that’s not the focus of the blog. But the books are linked there for people to see and click on if they wish. We also have short descriptions of all our books at the end of most titles, and a link to our blog so readers can connect with us and check out our other titles. Here’s a post about being a blogging writer. Stuff Blogging Writers Need to Know: Part One

We have tried paid advertising or free trials of advertising that would be paid, several different online sites, and honestly, the results have been pretty much zero sales or responses. I participate in author groups where we all post tweets and retweet each other, and, as difficult as it is to be consistent and keep doing that daily, that seems to be very effective. I’m going to treat myself to a paid version of a tweet scheduling program very soon, because right now I do it all manually and it’s driving me crazy. Here’s a post about Twitter. Curiouser and Curiouser … An Author’s Adventures in Twitterland

One thing that has helped us get some notice is offering samplers of our full-length books for 99 cents. Some of our 99 cent books are complete short stories or novellas and some are three-chapter excerpts. We have also tried pricing a couple of full-length books at 99 cents, and even tried Amazon’s KDP select program for one book. The results for Select were pretty disappointing, though we did get some notice and a few reviews. Smashwords has a distribution network to iTunes, Sony, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and others, and we are beginning to see regular sales there.

We have a wide variety of genres — Issues non-fiction, Homeschool Curriculum, Historical Adventures and Romances, and Science Fiction. We have something for most ages and tastes. We are not bestselling authors by any definition I can figure out, but our sales have grown a bit almost every month. It’s interesting to note that people are buying from all the kinds of books we have.

So my conclusions about marketing, so far in our journey, anyway, are as follows:

Having a good, clear, relatively simple, striking, easy-to-read and understand cover is a good thing. Having a link in the books is a good thing. Tweeting is a very good thing. Having a blog is a good thing, but probably not one that’s just about writing. Pinterest is something I’m still thinking about. It seems to have good points, such as the ability to display your books with prices and links to Amazon all in one place. If you can join some groups with readers in them, this may be a very good thing. But I see a lot of lookers on Pinterest, not a lot of buyers. Many people are there to ooh and ahh and get lost in pretty pictures, not to click a sales link and go read an ebook. Here’s a post about my pinterest experience. Pinterest Is My New Interest

I didn’t say much about Goodreads, but finding readers there and talking to them about other people’s books makes them think you are a nice person. Talking to them about your own books is not always a good idea, but they will check out that nice person’s books and blog sometimes. Having your books available in as many places a possible (not just on Amazon) is a good thing. Smashwords also deserves praise for upgrading their response time and technical support recently.

Pricing some books at 99 cents is a good thing. Having multiple titles and a variety of kinds of books seems to be a good thing. I have been told repeatedly that having a series is a good thing, so I’m trying that next.

Let me close this by saying that the mainstream, traditionally minded publishers and many traditionally-published authors are not there to help those who want to be indie authors. They consider you the competition. Many of them are getting on the bandwagon of independent publishing, or say they are. Some want you to pay them for advice and claim to be able to help you succeed. But the key to successful indie publishing, once you have made your book as good as you can, is marketing. And few, if any, of these people want to help you market. There’s a lot of talk about “platform” nowadays. That means having an audience who will buy your books. And these people know you have to have one, but they won’t help you get one. Odds are they won’t even take you on as a client or pay any attention to you unless you are already successful at doing your own marketing. And if you keep at it, finding things that work to get yourself known, you will be successful without their “help”.

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Twitter You’re Fired! Or Are You?

Coaching From the HEART  The Center CirclePursuing Your God-Given Dreams10 Minutes to Better Living: Daily Applications From the Life of ChristBuilding Character Through Athletics (More Than X's and O's)The Weapons of Warfare (The Center Circle Chronicles)

This was posted in an Author’s Group I belong to by a member who has not had the best of relationships with Twitter, I admit. But as we struggle to use our time wisely to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, to Edify believers, to promote a Christian Worldview, and to teach and to delight, we have to look at all the evidence when we consider promotion. So consider this testimonial by Steve Biddison, author of seven books on coaching and Christian fantasy.

Twitter, I called this meeting to let you know my intention to fire you. You’ve worked for me over a year now, but quite frankly, I feel as though I have been working for you. I’ve put in countless hours with you and have seen no return on my time investment. In fact you demand that you monopolize my time. But for what? Oh you’ve made great promises over the year. “start using hashtags” you tell me. So I did. But no one could see my tweets because they weren’t top tweets. So you insist I work harder to get more tweets. And again I listen and after a couple of thousand tweets, I arrive at top tweet status on almost all my hashtags, including ones like #amazon and #kindle, not to mention any number of smaller tags. But still you bring me no profit. “but wait,” you tell me. “labor Day we

ekend will be great. Tweet a bunch then.”. So I do. 350 tweets to be exact, tweeting around the clock since Friday morning. Not one sale through the whole labor day weekend So I ask why you insisted I waist all those hours scheduling tweets? But then came the real shocker for me. Late Monday afternoon I published a new book. A basketball playbook for goodness sake. I didn’t even let you know about because I was afraid you would insist on tweeting about it. So I did no advertising and lo and behold, I wake up this morning to find one had already sold WITHOUT you tweeting about it. So now I ask you, dear Twitter, what do you have to say for yourself? Give me some reasons why I should not fire you today.
Image of Steve Biddison

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