Let’s Get Digital Is Free. Maybe Forever?

If you don’t already have this, get it! David has lots of good info to share.

David Gaughran

digital2OPT FREE at Amazon | Apple | B&N | Kobo

I first published Let’s Get Digital in July 2011, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and then released a (much) revamped and updated version in September 2014.

Combined, both editions have sold well over 25,000 copies at this point, which is about 24,000 copies more than I ever hoped. So my sincere thanks to all of you for that – particularly the generous authors who contributed to the book and the army of writers recommending it to others.

Speaking of which, a friend told me the other day that she was grateful I’d written the book because it gives her a quick and easy way to answer emails from newbs.

Well, let me tell you, I’m totally fine with monetizing other people’s laziness. If I could monetize my own laziness I’d be richer than Croesus (one of the original investors in…

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Think You Couldn’t Possibly Lose Your Amazon Publishing Account? Think Again.

This is very disturbing and scary. A high percentage of my income is from borrows, and I have never had any success gaining traction outside of Amazon. So getting out of Select isn’t really an option for me.

The Active Voice

There’s this indie author I know a little bit from the Kboards.com forum. Her name is Pauline Creeden, and she’s an ordinary midlister, like so many of us. I remember PMing her some time ago and gushing about how particularly beautiful one of her book covers is — the one for Chronicles of Steele: Raven.collection Here, I’ll include an image. Gorgeous, eh?

Anyway, today I tuned in to Kboards and noticed that Pauline had started a thread. It contained what’s surely the worst news possible for an indie author: Amazon had closed her publishing account. All her ebooks had been taken off sale. Permanently. Here’s the email she got from Amazon:

We are reaching out to you because we have detected that borrows for your books are originating from systematically generated accounts. While we support the legitimate efforts of our publishers to promote their books, attempting to manipulate…

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Over 100 Free Science Fiction and Fantasy eBooks!

Free books in June

It’s almost the first weekend of the month, and that means it’s time for another SFF group promo.:) This month, we have over 100 free titles in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and for the first time, conveniently organized according to store. You think Amazon is the epitome of evil? No problem — just click on the link for the Apple store! You’re boycotting Apple because they’re using any and all tricks to get around paying taxes in Europe?* No problem — click on the Kobo link! You’re one of the last people in the known universe who has a Nook? No problem — we have B&N too!

While I’m sounding the promo drum, you can also get my book Looking Through Lace on sale for 99c until June 7. Poor little book isn’t doing too hot, probably because of the bad review right at the top,:/ so it can use all the help it can get!

Hope you all find some great reading for the summer vacation!

* They all do this, or almost all, including such beloved brands as Starbucks. But for some reason, the Beloved Brands like Apple and Starbucks don’t get nearly as much flack and bad press for it for some reason …

How to do a successful ebook promo (without BookBub)

Starting out as an indie author

As many readers of this blog know, I broke down this month and did a free promo for one of my Big Fat Fantasies again, Shadow of Stone, the second book in The Pendragon Chronicles. For a number of reasons, I hadn’t really wanted to go there anymore:

1) The reviews you get after a free run are sometimes downright depressing, since a lot of people are grabbing the book who are not your target audience.

2) The Pendragon books are REALLY long, and they took a LONG time to write. Something irks me about giving away all that work for free.

3) I don’t want to support the assumption on the part of a growing number of readers that the only good book is a free book.

Nonetheless, I decided to plan a free promo for Shadow of Stone. In the last half a year, it has sold less than 50 copies and had less than 20,000 pages read. Meaning that even though the book can be borrowed through KU, there were very few people taking advantage of the opportunity.

Shadow of Stone

I think part of the curse of my Pendragon Chronicles series is that the books are standalone novels. And it seems that when readers come to the tragic conclusion of Yseult, which ends with no cliffhanger pulling them on, they are not as compelled to immediately buy the next book — only about 25% of the people who buy Yseult also pick up book 2. So I really didn’t have a lot to lose by tossing SoS out there for free for the first time in years.

Before I scheduled the free run, I applied for ads with a number of sites where I’ve gotten good results before. A lot of places don’t want to advertise book 2 in a series, even if the novels are standalone, but I finally got approved for an ad with Manybooks.net for May 21, so I set up the free promo around that. Organizing a free promo is very different than a 99c sale, since with that you want to go out with a bang. Your sales ranking doesn’t disappear like it does when you’re giving the book away for free. I figured for the free run, I wanted my heavy hitter towards the beginning, so that Shadow of Stone would soon be high in a lot of top 100 lists, which in turn would (I hoped) lead to organic downloads also improving the rank. Around the more expensive ad, I scheduled a couple of inexpensive promos through Fiverr, and applied for as many free ads as I could. (You can see the list of free sites I usually apply to here.)

The strategy worked better than I imagined, even though I never heard back from a number of the sites offering free ads. Here’s the breakdown for my ads, other promo activities, downloads, and income during the course of the free run for SoS:

Shadow of Stone free from May 20 – 24

May 20 – Natali FB promo Fiverr ($5.50) – 185 downloads, $21.32 in earnings
NewFreeKindleBooks (free)
May 21 – ManyBooks ($25) – 685 downloads, $27.47 in earnings
EbookDaily (free)
May 22 – Posted to Facebook groups – 263 downloads, $22.94 in earnings
May 23 – Fiverr Bknights ($10.50) – 1382 downloads, $76.08 in earnings
Booklovers’ Heaven (free)
Blog post
Mailing list
More FB groups
May 24 – More FB groups – 363 downloads, $28.90 in earnings

Ask David (free) – ran Shadow of Stone from May 20 – 24

Applied for but no response:

Reading Deals
Frugal Freebies
SF Signal free fiction
OHFB (May 24)
Ebookshabit
Freebooks
Choosy Bookworm
EReader Cafe
Ebooklister
Freebooksy
Iloveebooks
Newfreekindlebooks
ebookasaurus
Armadillo
Freeebooksforme

I also tried to set up a Facebook ad based on impressions, since I figured an ad where I pay for clicks for a free book would hardly be worth it, *g* but it was never approved. That’s an experiment I would still like to try for a free book, but maybe with a permafree where time is not of the essence.

One more thing I did which helps explain the huge jump in downloads towards the end of the free run: just before I was intending to go to bed on May 23, I checked the rankings for SoS, and it was very close to breaking the top 100 overall free on Amazon. Since I’m in Central Europe, that means it was prime time in North America. So rather than shutting down as I had intended, I sent out pleas on Facebook and Twitter, asking people to share the word and help me break the top 100.

It worked.

Here are the rankings of Shadow of Stone when I got up the next morning:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

It was #1 in several other categories as well, but those are the ones Amazon decided to show me.:)

During the course of the promo, I sold 51 copies of Yseult, which had previously been limping along at about a sale every other day. Strangely enough, sales of other books not in the series picked up as well, something I rarely experience with a 99c promo.

But the fact remains that the vast majority of my income from this promo was from sales of Yseult. The way the Amazon algorithms are right now, I definitely would not recommend a free promo for a book that is not part of a series. The rank for SoS after its free run (where it broke the top 100) was #126,851. Yseult, on the other hand, was #7580 — at full price. The sales I’ve seen since the promo are mostly a result of the increased rank of the companion novel.

Of course, these numbers don’t come close to those to the profit you can make if you DO get a BookBub ad. But since those are few and far between (my last was in January), I’m very happy with the 4:1 ROI of this particular promo.:)

Shadow of Stone FREE through tomorrow, May 24!

For the first time in years, I’m giving away one of my Big Fat Fantasies. Through tomorrow, you can get Shadow of Stone free on Amazon.

Shadow of Stone

Description:

For over ten years, there has been peace in Britain after Arthur and his warriors soundly defeated the Saxons at the battle of Caer Baddon. But sometimes peace is deceptive …

After a series of hard winters and famine, an alliance of dissatisfied northern kings attack the rich cities of Southern Britain. But in the years of peace, Arthur’s army has grown soft; jealousies and trivialities rip once strong alliances apart. Cador, who is mockingly referred to as “farmer king,” must go to war again. The threat to their way of life throws him together with Yseult, the woman he has secretly loved since he was a youth.

But can their politically expedient marriage help bring peace to Britain again? Or will it only lead to further conflict?

As betrayals both real and imagined shake the foundations of former British unity, Cador and Yseult must try to negotiate their own personal peace. Who will survive the upheavals to come? Will Britain rally once more behind a common leader to fight off the common threat?

If you haven’t read the first book, no worries — both novels are standalone stories, revolving around different Arthurian legends, and set in a more realistic historical setting than the more chivalric Arthurian tradition.

Enjoy and pass along!:)

How Much Did Kindle Unlimited Pay per Page Read in April, 2016? (Good News)

Some good news! Although the fact that we have fewer pages now tips the scales a bit in the opposite direction …

chrismcmullen

Image from ShutterStock. Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ: MARCH, 2016

The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate improved nearly 4% up to $0.00495663 for April, 2016. (Compare this to $0.00477885 for March, 2016.)

This is up 21% over January’s rate of $0.00411. A nice trend.

The KDP Select Global Fund held steady at $14.9M for April, 2016 (identical to March).

The improved per-page rate and steady global fund are positive indicators. The nearly $15M per month global fund is a huge amount paid out in royalties to indie authors (and that’s on top of royalties for sales). The per-page rate has almost returned to half a penny per page. When many critics have predicted a drop below $0.004 to come fast, the payment has nearly returned to $0.005.

These trends are consistent with seasonal effects of the original Kindle Unlimited version as well as the original Prime KOLL borrows back before Kindle Unlimited…

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HUGE 99c SFF eBook Sale – over 150 books! May 7-8

May SFF promo

The monthly Science Fiction and Fantasy group promo is here again, and this weekend, May 7-8, we have an amazing lineup of over 150 ebooks for only 99c each! It officially starts tomorrow, but many of the books are already on sale.

My contribution this month is the box set of Looking Through Lace and Beyond the Waters of the World.

Looking Through Lace Box Set

I really think you should take a look — not that I want to ruin your weekend … *evil grin *

KU Scammers Attack Amazon’s Free Ebook Charts

Sigh. The next scam making it more difficult for honest authors to make a living …

David Gaughran

freescamLast month, Amazon was caught up in a crisis at least partly of its own making when bungled attempts to deal with a growing Kindle Unlimited scammer problem resulted in the sanctioning of innocent authors.

Amazon has since apologized, and has also pledged to beef up its response to the KU scamming mess – but questions very much remain about whether Amazon is taking the problem seriously enough. A quick check shows that some of the main scammers are still operating, under the very same author names and book titles that were reported to Amazon in late February and early March. Which is very disappointing.

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with Phoenix Sullivan about the problem and she told me about something else she was witnessing – scammers taking over the free charts in the Kindle Store. I could see what she was describing and invited…

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Champagne in Champagne

I promised to report on our short trip to the Champagne region of France, and now that things have quieted down a bit here, I can finally get around to it.

This month, my sister came for a visit for the first time in over 25 years. After a few days in our humble home, we headed off for France, where we met her daughter in Troyes.

Arriving in Champagne
Karen and Olivia

Troyes is an amazingly quaint and lovely town, full of narrow streets and half-timbered houses and old churches, deserving of a much longer visit than we had time for in the few days at our disposal.

Troyes, Champagne

Troyes, Champagne

From Troyes, we went to Epernay, home of such famous champagnes as Moet & Chandon. There, we took a tour of a champagne house and the cellars, and visited a number of places on the Avenue de Champagne for a tasting here and there.

Champagne

Champagne

Champagne

After Epernay, we went to Reims, where we visited the very impressive cathedral. It doesn’t beat Chartres, but it’s still one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve seen.

Champagne
Me and the old man in Reims

Olivia has been living in Nantes since last autumn, and it was great having someone along who was fluent in French. She even helped translate from English to French at one of the places where we were doing a tasting, which lead to a couple of extra glasses of champagne. *g*

We came back with a half case. Now I just have to come up with some special occasions in order to drink it.:)

You can see more pictures of our trip here.

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