Results of free run for Chameleon in a Mirror and further experiments

I promised to report the results of my free run last week with my time travel novel Chameleon in a Mirror.

In one word: mixed.

Altogether I managed to give away over 2000 books, many in places where I’ve never sold anything before. The only Amazon store where CIAM didn’t get any downloads was Mexico. And that was all without spending a dime, only announcing the free run on my blog and through the free sites listed here. On Amazon.de, CIAM even managed to stay in the Top 100 free overall for over three days. Today, the novel is in two Top 100 categories on Amazon.com:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,197 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#59 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > New Adult & College
#83 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy

The book had several borrows immediately after the free run, which has led me to re-enroll it in KDP Select. As long as it is still visible, I might manage to get a few more borrows.

So why is that mixed? CIAM is pretty far down in the top 100 categories it managed to get into, which means it will probably drop out of sight again fairly quickly. And in marketing books, everything is about visibility. If no one sees your book, no one will buy it.

On Amazon.de, despite being in the Top 100 overall for several days, CIAM is not in a single Top 100 category right now.

But I’m still hoping that all the downloads will lead to a few more reviews.

For my next experiment, starting Wednesday, I will be trying another Countdown Deal, this time with my short story collection, The Future, Imperfect.

The Future, Imperfect

The Future, Imperfect has a couple of strikes against it, the main one being that as a short story collection, it has gotten several bad reviews from readers who objected to the short stories being short. I’ve had reviews like that for all of my short story collections by now, so I’m used to it. Unfortunately, it makes it next to impossible to advertize those books, since most sites require an average rating of at least 4 stars.

Thus, comparing results would be like apples and oranges. Instead, I just want to see what strategies might possibly work to get my books selling again.

So remember, if you like dystopian fiction and you read short stories, The Future, Imperfect, will be on sale for 99c from Oct. 22 – Oct. 27. :)

Giving “Free” another chance with Chameleon in a Mirror

Some time ago, after a series of very disappointing free runs that hardly seemed to bump the visibility of the respective books at all, I decided to give up on temporary free runs as an advertizing method. Instead, I tried to increase interest using permafree offerings.

Let’s just say that hasn’t gone so well.

I haven’t been doing a lot of marketing for some time, and it has really been showing in my sales figures. Admittedly I didn’t have a lot of time while I was working on the translation, but it has made me quite convinced that if you don’t make any effort to market and find readers, they are not going to find you.

I published Chameleon in a Mirror earlier this year when I was right in the middle of the translation. I didn’t do anything other than announce it on this blog and post a couple of chapters to my Aphra Behn Page. It sold a few copies and then proceeded to sink into oblivion. Even after over half a year, it still doesn’t have enough reviews for me to book any paid advertizing anywhere. So I decided to try out “free” again for a change, in the hopes that a few people will download, read, and review. I updated my list here on this blog of places to notify about a free run, went through it only using the sites that didn’t charge for the announcement, and got back to organizing the cover reveal for Island of Glass.

To my surprise, CIAM took off. Here is where it now stands on Amazon.com:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > New Adult & College

Then it got picked up by the German version of Pixel of Ink, XTME. And now the book is practically set to break the Top 100 free books overall on Amazon.de. Here the present ranking:

Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #105 Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 – Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop)

Nr. 1 in Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Fremdsprachige eBooks > Englische eBooks > Belletristik > Populäre Belletristik > Historisch

So if anyone reading this is in Germany, please download a copy! (And everyone else too, of course.) It’s free through October 18. It would be so cool to get into the top 100 here!

Another thing I love about this is that maybe a few more people will also learn about my idol, Aphra Behn. :)

Aphra Behn by Peter Lely

Of course, I don’t yet know if this will result in actual sales once the free run is over. Be assured that I will post more next week. My sales on sites other than Amazon are so abysmal, if this works, it might be worth to pull my books elsewhere and put all my eggs back in one basket, as bad as that advice usually is.

ADDENDUM: Chameleon is a Mirror is now #89 on Amazon.de!

A mostly marketing update, and more mirror for #WIPpet Wednesday

With the cover reveal for Island of Glass yesterday, the first free run in almost a year that I’ve organized for one of my books, and a lot of work on the big translation project, I haven’t had much time for actual writing so far this week. What free time I’ve been able to devote to my writing has been taken up with marketing.

But that is going VERY well! I want to thank you all so much who participated in the cover reveal for Island of Glass. The book isn’t even out yet, and it has already cracked a Top 100 list with pre-orders! Here’s where it stands as of this writing:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#50 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Fairy Tales & Folklore

You guys are the greatest! *Hugs* :D

As to the free book, that’s my Aphra Behn time travel, Chameleon in a Mirror. I tossed that one out on the market earlier this year without a plan. It’s been limping along and still doesn’t even have enough reviews for me to advertize it anywhere. So I decided to try out “free” again for a change, in the hopes that a few people will download, read, and review. More on that decision tomorrow, since it’s free through Saturday, and I have time. Right now I just want to share with you how well it’s doing on its free run:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > New Adult & College
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

Chameleon in a Mirror

So grab yourself a copy while you can! Tell your friends so they can grab a copy too! *g*

On to WIPpet Wednesday. I’m still posting from Facets of Glass, the second book in the Glassmakers trilogy after Island of Glass. It’s getting a bit difficult to do without providing spoilers, so this excerpt is a page or so after the last one I gave you, skipping the bits with a bit too much information. So here are 15 sentences for the 15th day of the month. Princess Zilia has just seen what the magic mirror has to show her:

The dowager princess clenched her hands in the folds of her skirts, controlling her anger with an effort. She hated many things, but she particularly hated betrayal. That combined with potential pecuniary loss to the Empire of Venice made it all the more heinous in her eyes.
“I would like to keep this mirror in my rooms for the time being,” she told the witch.
Vanna pressed her lips together before she spoke. “With all due respect, Princess Zilia, this mirror is my main source of income.”
“And I would not dream of taking it from you without compensation,” she said, although of course she had. “I treasure your services too much. Inform my steward what your projected loss of income will be, and he will see to it that you are paid.”
The witch seemed to choke back a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Your Grace. May I inquire as to what you intend to do with the mirror, as you do not have the magic to ask questions of it yourself?”
“Keep it out of the hands of others, Vanna, no more and no less.”
“Ah, very wise.”
“You are dismissed. The apple please?”

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Cover reveal for Island of Glass

My YA fantasy novella, Island of Glass, is now available for pre-order for only 99c! It will come out on October 28, 2014.

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.

When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the ruling prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

Set in an alternate historical Venice with alchemists, witches and magic, the story uses familiar motifs from the beloved fairy tale “Cinderella” to tell a tale with a very different message.
Island of Glass is a Young Adult fantasy novella of approximately 25,000 words, or 100 pages. It is the first book in The Glassmakers Trilogy.

Excerpt

The prince chuckled, placing the second slipper next to its mate on the gilded side table. “Most young women scheme for the opportunity to be alone with a prince of La Serenissima. Yet here you are, offered the chance, and you turn it down.”
Chiara didn’t know what to say. She could only hope that beneath his smiles and chuckles he wasn’t offended. Her plan to gain the prince’s favor was backfiring badly.
“Talented, beautiful, and unusual,” the prince continued. “And quite rich as well, I presume?”
She could tell from the heat of her cheeks that they must be flaming by now. She nodded mutely.
He raised one expertly plucked, aristocratic eyebrow. “And you want me to free your uncle.”
She almost heaved a sigh of relief at his change of subject. She hoped that was the end of his attempts to flirt with her; flirtation was not one of Chiara’s strong points. “The Fenice Glassworks cannot be run properly without Gianfranco Dragoni,” she said. “Surely the Council of Ten cannot wish for such a situation. The taxes we pay are an important source of revenue for Venice, after all.”
He didn’t answer, staring instead at the matching glass slippers. “I wonder if they would fit me. They look to be my size.” He glanced at her again with a suggestive smile. “As if you knew me intimately, my dear.”
Oh, no, she hoped he didn’t intend to actually try the slippers on! They were decorative, not meant to be worn. If they broke and cut his princely foot, he would probably throw her into the prison of the Doge’s palace right alongside Uncle Gian.
He sank into the nearest lavishly upholstered chair and snapped his fingers. “Remove my shoes,” he said to the servant who appeared at his side.
Chiara watched the proceedings, trying to remain composed, given her panic at what would most likely happen next.

Enter the Magic Mirror for #WIPpet Wednesday

Since posting my goals for this round, I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done — only 1000 words. My time has been taken up with other goals: preparing for cover reveal and book launch for Island of Glass, and getting book blurb, bio, and and various other things translated for the translation project (more on that soon — we’re almost there!).

So today we’ll be moving on very quickly to the excerpt of the day for WIPpet Wednesday. Math is super easy: 10 sentences for the 10th month of the year. This excerpt is from Facets of Glass again and follows directly on the one I gave you last week. Dowager Princess Zilia of House Foscari has sent for a witch:

Vanna arrived at Palazzo Foscari in the course of the afternoon, trailed by two servants carrying her magic mirror. The witch had nearly snow white hair that tumbled in curls around her strangely unlined face. The dowager princess had often wondered if this too was some kind of magic — but if it was, why hadn’t Vanna also given her hair the illusion of youth?
“You requested my services, Your Grace?” the witch said after rising from her curtsy, the silk of her skirts swishing richly around her ankles. Witchery was a profitable business in Venice, especially for a witch as talented and powerful as Vanna.
Zilia nodded shortly. “I need you to use your magic mirror to find someone for me.”
“You have something from the hands of this person that will lead the mirror to him or her?”
“I do.” She held out the glass apple.


Ca’ Foscari in Venice, inspiration for my House Foscari in The Glassmakers

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Starting out as an indie author: Using keywords for getting into niche categories on Amazon

Starting out as an indie author

When you publish an ebook through Amazon’s KDP dashboard, you are allowed to select two categories, such as Fantasy/Historical or Fantasy/Epic. But not all of the browse categories on Amazon are available through the dashboard. I’ve written before about how important it can be for sales to get into the right categories here and here.

Much of what I wrote in those posts, however, is now obsolete, at least as far as strategies on how to get into obscure categories is concerned. But it is still true that for the sake of visibility, it’s important to be in categories where the competition isn’t as strong (unless you’re selling hundreds of copies a day, that is). Some of the subcategories for ebooks that aren’t options in the dashboard are wonderfully intimate little niches that will keep you book visible even with a much lower sales ranking. Because if your book drops out of the top 100, it is officially dead (believe me, I know).

But whereas once you had to write Amazon directly in order to be listed in the categories, now you need to use keywords.

When you publish through KDP, one of your options is to type in seven keywords. Little information is given as to their purpose, and it is easy to underestimate how important they can be. In the KDP help pages, however, there is extensive information on which keywords to use to get into various categories that can’t be chosen directly. Here are some examples that in my own experience have proven useful:

Science Fiction & Fantasy Keywords

Literature & Fiction Keywords

Teen & Young Adult Category Keywords

Of course it make no sense to aim for a category just because there isn’t as much competition. But if you can find some niche categories where your book would fit, I highly recommend using keywords to get into them. It just might give your book the edge it needs.

Other posts in this series:

Starting out as an indie author: preparing your manuscript for ebook retailers

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author: The costs of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author: Why editing is important — and who can skip the expense after all

Starting out as an indie author: Creating your own covers

Starting out as an indie author: Interview with Kate Sparkes

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Getting Your Books into Google Play

Quarterly goals for final round, 2014

Hard to believe it’s the final round again already! Hope everyone has been making good progress on their goals. Mine remain much the same as last round. I’ve tweaked here an there, deleted the goals I completed, and I’m raising the weekly word count goals, since things were going well towards the end of last round.

Writing:

- Write an average of 4000 words a week.

- Finish Facets of Glass

- Integrate critiques from the Villa Diodati workshop into Recontact (novella with Jay Lake)

- Write 2 new short stories

Blog:

- Write a new installment of “Starting out as an indie author” every other week

Business:

- Translate book description etc. for translation project and get it back to the client.

Writing business:

- Try to pull off a successful book launch for Island of Glass on Oct. 28

- List books with Babelcube & Noisetrade

- Submit Recontact (novella with Jay Lake) to traditional magazine markets

- Finish splitting Yseult into episodes and publish individually

- Publish “The Shadow Artist” as ebook

- Publish Chameleon in a Mirror to Createspace

- Find more reviewers for CIAM

- Publish more of my books to Xinxii (Shadow of Stone!)

- Publish Life in the Fjord Lane

- Publish “Mars, A Traveler’s Guide” to Amazon and make it free

- Upload free books to Google Play

- Submit 5 short stories to traditional markets during the round

I will leave you with a hopeful picture to lead us all into a successful fourth quarter!

Worlds of fiction - Image licensed through Shutterstock

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