Tag Archives: free

Over 100 #FREE SFF E-books for October!

October promo

From Oct. 1-2, it’s time for our monthly group promo again, and this time we have another 100+ free ebooks for your perusal, organized according to retailer. Another great selection of SFF books, and you can’t complain about the price. 🙂

Enjoy!

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Shadow of Stone on sale for 99c through Dec. 19 – and testing ad sites

In my on-going attempt to get back into the swing of things marketing-wise — and figure out what works in this new self-publishing era of Kindle Unlimited and various other changes — I set up a sale this week for Shadow of Stone, the second book in The Pendragon Chronicles.

Shadow of Stone on Amazon

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?

For the purpose, I found a few sites that will advertize 99c sales for free, as well as several cheaper ad options, which I have staggered throughout the week to test their effectiveness. It is well known by now that a Bookbub ad will get you hundreds of sales, but it can be very difficult to get a slot with them because of all the competition. Besides, placement in their newsletter costs hundreds of dollars. And while most books with a Bookbub ad earn the expense back, not everyone has that kind of ready cash up front.

So I am testing various options so you don’t have to! *g* Next week, I will summarize the results and put together a list of the advertizing sites I’ve found.

In the meanwhile, feel free to take a look at Shadow of Stone. And if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can now borrow it for free, since it is back in KDP Select. Just for the record, that is not because I am an Amazon fanatic, it is because my sales on other sites were so abysmal, the advantage of making money through borrows on Amazon just amounted to the better deal for me. When and if any other market seems to be developing more potential, I will add more of my books to other sites.

Happy Halloween — and a free Halloween story for the occasion!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

When I first came to Germany, many decades ago, there was no such thing as Halloween. All Hallows, the first of November, is a religious holiday here, and those with regular jobs get the day off. But the evening before All Hallows, the night when the door between the worlds of the living and the dead is open a bit wider than usual — that seems to have it’s roots in the Irish Celtic festival of Samhain. Immigrants brought Halloween to the US, where it eventually became the second biggest money-making holiday after Christmas.

Here in Germany, though, there isn’t much left of the Celts who once dominated most of northern Europe. Halloween is an import on the part of clever marketing folks who wanted to sell costumes left over from Fasching — otherwise known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. That is still the big dress up and get crazy party here in Germany, at least for adults. But in the last decade or so, Halloween has become a big event for the younger ones.

Halloween in Germany
My favorite witches

To celebrate witches and pumpkins and the cracked-open door between the living and the dead, I would like to offer you my Halloween short story, “Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife” free through Nov. 3:

Misty Mankin hated Halloween. She hated ghosts and princesses and black and orange. Especially orange. She hated frozen pumpkin pie, the most common kind in Rolynka, Alaska. She hated witches and masks and what qualified as seasonal office parties near the Arctic Circle. She hated all the interruptions of her evening accompanied by screaming and giggling and variations from innocent to profane on the three words “trick or treat.”
She particularly hated the pumpkin knife — and the fact that it contained the ghost of her mother…

Halloween story

If you don’t have a copy yet, do please be my guest and grab one!

And enjoy all the ghosts and witches out there on the streets. 🙂

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* 😀

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.

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

Starting out as an indie author

In an earlier post in this series, I mentioned that since I’d heard so many horror stories about Google Play randomly cutting prices of indie books, and Amazon subsequently following suit — with serious consequences for the incomes of the writers involved — I decided not to try to sell my books through that venue.

But then I learned (on Kboards of course) that the stories I’d heard, while true, could be avoided with creative pricing. Apparently Google discounts all books in pretty much the same way. But while the percentages hover around a 23% discount, the discounts jump around a bit, and don’t apply to the lowest price points (supposedly). Luckily, the smart folks on the Internet have figured out what you have to do to get your book priced the way you want it. This in turn will keep Amazon happy and they won’t discount your book below the 70% royalty sweet spot of 2.99.

Here is a compilation of some of the suggestions I’ve found around the Internet for how to price your book on Google Play to make it end up the price you want:

Desired price / Price you need to enter on Google Play:

99c / 99c
1.49 / 1.49 (Apparently Google does not discount these)
1.99 / 2.54
2.99 / 3.93
3.99 / 5.18
4.99 / 6.48
5.99 / 7.78

I don’t know if all of these are actually 100% correct; you might need to experiment a bit within the price range to get the results you want.

Becoming a “partner” on Google Play

You cannot publish with Google Play without a Gmail account, so if you don’t have that yet, it’s the first thing you need to do. Once you’ve signed up, you can go here to get started publishing:

https://play.google.com/books/publish/

The Google Play dashboard is much less intuitive than Amazon, B&N, Draft2Digital and Kobo, the sales sites I have primarily used until now. On the left you have the following options: book catalog, analytics & reports, promotions, payment center, and account settings. Today I will only be going into “book catalog” and “payment center” since that is what you need in order to publish a book. (The “account settings” automatically gets populated with your Google account info and any publisher info you add when you sign in.) You do the actual publishing from “book catalog”:

Google Play

But although it is farther down in the list, I suggest starting with the item “payment center”: if you don’t, your book will not be published. The fist couple of times I tried to publish Part I of my serialized version of Yseult, I kept getting the error message “PRICE MISSING OR NOT APPLICABLE” which didn’t make a lot of sense to me, since Google allows you to set the price to free. Finally, I googled the error message and found out that Google Play would not allow me to publish until I entered my payment info. So maybe that should be first in line … ?

Anyway, in the payment center, click “Payment Profiles” and enter your bank account info. GP does not allow PayPal, unfortunately. If your bank is in the US, for Sales Territories select “WORLD – US/USD” and under “CURRENCY CONVERSION” TURNED ON.

Once you’ve saved your payment information, you can go to “Book Catalog” and actually publish your book. Click on the “Add book” button. If you already have an ISBN for your book, enter it here, otherwise check the box that you don’t. The “Book details” pane opens, which should be largely self-explanatory. One thing that bears mentioning, however, is that for GP you have to enter you bio for EVERY BOOK. Interesting, huh? The leading search engine in the world can’t find the biographical info for for a single author account …

Once you’ve entered the book details, in the next pane you upload your ebook and cover. The book itself can be either EPUB or PDF. In order to save yourself grief and repeated uploads, if you are uploading an Epub file, I suggest testing it with EPUB Validator first:

http://validator.idpf.org/

The next pane is for pricing. No dropdown menu for the currency, unfortunately, so if you’re in the States, enter USD manually. The box after “for” should be WORLD. For the price, see the list above. 🙂

The “Settings” pane is for metadata. The format is of course “digital” and for the subject, enter keywords that will get your book into the appropriate categories, such as “fantasy” and “historical.” The form then makes suggestions that you can choose from. For most of the other options, you’re fine with the defaults, at least as far as I could determine.

The final pane is for publishing, where you can decide whether to publish only to Google Books or also to Google Play as well. Seems a no-brainer to me to choose both. 🙂

I have only just started publishing with Google Play, so I can’t say yet whether all the work will actually be worth it. But it was fun finding the free book with my smartphone and downloading it. If you have Google Play, please do so as well! There don’t seem to be any Nestvolds other than me in the GP store, so the free book should be pretty easy to find.

Once I’ve been on Google Play longer, have published a few more things, and understand the system better, I will post more.

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

Part I of Yseult published – and a request

The last few days have been all about marketing, and I haven’t gotten much writing done. But I did have a fairly successful week last week, with a total word count of 4100 words. Oh, and if you haven’t seen the interview with our own Kate Sparkes that I posted on Monday, check it out!

The marketing activity this week has to do with the experiment I wrote about in my last blog post, splitting Yseult up into four parts and uploading each individually. I started on that yesterday, publishing Part I to Amazon and Draft2Digital. It is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo (hasn’t published to B&N yet).

Yseult, Part I

That is where the request comes in. Amazon doesn’t allow you to set the price to free, so I have to get them to price match. Which means I need people to tell them about a lower price. Some of you guys have helped me with this before and will know how this works. For those who don’t, here’s how it goes:

– Go to the Amazon page of Yseult, Part I here: http://www.amazon.com/Yseult-Part-I-Two-Women-ebook/dp/B00NFPE1T8/

– Scroll down to the links beneath the product details and click on “tell us about a lower price”

– In the box that pops up, click on “Website” and enter this URL for the iTunes store where the book is free:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id917430003

– For price and shipping cost enter “0” and click on “Submit feedback”

Thanks in advance!

On to WIPpet Wednesday — and another request. I’ve been messing with the description for this first installment and I’d really like some help, which is why that’s what I’m posting today. On the one hand, I need to make it clear that this is part of the novel that has already been published. On the other, I have to get something in about the main plot line of this episode. Finally, I have to let potential readers know that this is not all going to end happily — or else those who get to the fourth book might be inclined to hunt be down and shoot me, despite the fact that in all the versions I know of the legend, either one or both of the lovers dies at the end. (See some of the angry reviews I’ve gotten for Yseult if you don’t think this is necessary. *g*)

Anyway, here’s what I have right now. (It’s not the same as on Amazon, since, as I said, I’ve been messing with it.) Please tear it apart!

The #1 Amazon Bestseller in Arthurian Fantasy for 14 Weeks!

Yseult: A Tale of love in the Age of King Arthur is a retelling of the tragedy of Tristan and Yseult, a story older than Romeo and Juliet or Lancelot and Guinevere; an Arthurian romance with roots going back far into the realm of legend and the undying tales of King Arthur.

“Part I: Two Women” is a re-imagining of Yseult’s youth, never part of the legends — until now.

The tragic love story of Tristan and Yseult has been told many times and in many ways, but always Yseult is a princess of Ireland, a land on the fringes of Europe, a land that had never been conquered by Rome. But what would her life have been like in that pagan land before the advent of Christianity?

Yseult the Wise and Yseult the Fair, mother and daughter, are members of the proud race of the Feadh Ree, the Old Race in Eriu. But new ways and a new religion are coming to their land, and despite all their magic, they are powerless to stop it …

Yseult was originally published in German translation with Random House Germany as Flamme und Harfe, and followed by translations into Dutch and Italian.

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.

“The Leaving Sweater” finally free on Amazon!

After repeated attempts, my short story “The Leaving Sweater” is now finally free on Amazon!

The Leaving Sweater: Tales from far Beyond North

The description:

So you think magic isn’t necessary in order to leave? Think again …

Victoria Askew doesn’t want to leave remote Rolynka, Alaska when she finishes high school; it’s all she’s ever known. At least not until her mother knits her the most beautiful sweater she’s ever seen, a sweater imbued with magic — a leaving sweater…

Even if you’ve already read “The Leaving Sweater” on Strange Horizons, where it was originally published, do please download the ebook! I’m hoping that with a permafree story in the series “Tales From Far Beyond North” I might be able to sell a few more tales in the series, which in turn just might inspire to me to write more about the oddball community in Rolynka, Alaska near the Bering Strait, with its strange forms of everyday magic.

The stories were inspired by a combination of my mother’s background in Nome, Alaska, and my love of the brilliant TV series, Northern Exposure. So I guess the stories are a sort of fanfic, even if several of them have been published in professional publications already. 🙂


Trailer for Tales From Far Beyond North

And if you are so inclined, please tell your friends to download too!

E-book promotions: Countdown – meh. Permafree – yay! (kinda)

Way back in the beginning of November, I wrote about the new Kindle Countdown Deals that Amazon had come up with to try to make KDP Select more attractive to writers again. I signed up for a promotion with my collection of short stories, Dragon Time, and promised to write about the results after it was over.

Well, Nanowrimo happened, and then Christmas happened, and now we have 2014, and I still haven’t posted about my results.

There’s one good thing as a result of that, however, and that is that I have some data now to compare, since my Arthurian short story, Gawain and Ragnell, went free at almost the same time that Dragon Time was available as a Countdown Deal.

My experience of the Countdown Deal is that it’s worth next to nothing unless you have some big promotion going on to push it. This, of course, is true for a limited-time free promotion as well, and the Countdown Deal has the advantage that you are sill making money on your book, AND at better royalty rates. So if you want to shell out the big bucks for an ad with BookBub or one of the few other places that are still effective for moving books, you could earn back the expense for the ad much quicker with a Countdown Deal. If you sell next to no books on the other platforms, B&N, Kobo, iTunes, etc., and you’re willing to push the promo with paid advertising, the Countdown Deal might be an argument to return to Select. But I suspect only under those circumstances. Free promos aren’t worth much any more either these days.

For Dragon Time, I only announced the promo here and on my Facebook page, and tweeted it a couple of times. I sold one copy of the story collection.

At the time the Countdown Deal started and Gawain and Ragnell went permafree, the sales of my ebooks had come to a complete standstill. I hadn’t done any promotion for my books since May 2013, and every month thereafter my sales dropped more. The first week in November, I’d sold two books total across all my titles. And it ended up being my single worst month ever for ebook sales. (It didn’t help that some apparent “fan” went through my books, buying them and then returning them three days later. When you’re selling so few books, that kind of behavior becomes pretty obvious.)

But once Gawain and Ragnell was finally price-matched to free, an interesting thing started happening. The first few days, it didn’t have that many downloads. I did exactly the same promotion for it that I did for the Countdown Deal for Dragon Time, announced it here, on Facebook, and on Twitter. At first it looked to me like permafree was going to be the same washout as the Countdown Deal. But then somehow it started gaining traction, and by the end of the month, 342 people had downloaded the story. In December, it was a lot less, but still another 171. And that’s enough to keep Gawain and Ragnell in a couple of top 100 lists. Here’s where it is right now:

Download it! It's free!

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,686 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

#11 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Arthurian
#28 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends
#48 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

This is what’s so good about permafree — it gets one of your books where people can see it. And the downloads are cumulative, so I don’t lose that ranking. Yes, this is a lot lower than the story was the end of November, but it is still in those crucial top 100 lists.

November ended up being my worst month for sales ever. But in December that trend actually turned around. And not only did I sell more books, I sold more of the 2.99+ books like Yseult (which is where the money is, with the 70% royalties) than the cheaper ones. This month so far, I’ve been selling about a book a day, all at 2.99+. That’s still not very much, I know, especially not after those amazing stretches I’ve had when I sold nearly ten books a day.

But right now I’m just glad the downward spiral has been reversed. 🙂 And I’m determined to get a few more permafree books out there, once I’ve caught up a bit on the big translation job.

So anyway: download Gawain and Ragnell! It’s free, and you’d be doing me a big favor! *g*

Related posts:

“Amazon trying to re-Kindle interest in KDP Select: The new ‘Countdown Deals'”

“Promoting Ebooks with KDP Select”

“Dragon Time” live as Countdown Deal, and “Gawain and Ragnell” finally free!

I posted yesterday about the new KDP Select “Countdown Deals” and my decision to give it a whirl with my YA short story collection, Dragon Time. It took a while, but the sale is now live:

Also, I am very happy to announce that today Amazon finally price-matched Gawain and Ragnell, and it is now permafree. Download! Tell your friends! Send links to everyone who enjoys Arthurian fiction! *g*

I want to thank everyone who tattled on me and helped to make this novelette free. Cross your fingers for me that it helps with sales of the other Pendragon Chronicles books. 🙂