Tag Archives: marketing

How to develop a strategy for ebook sale promotions (Starting out as an indie author)

Once upon a time, when I first started switching from traditional to indie publishing, all you had to do to sell books was to offer your works free on a regular basis and get a few thousand downloads. After the free runs, the books would be high in the Amazon rankings, which would provide the visibility to sell a decent number of books daily for a while until your book disappeared into obscurity again. My biggest income month as an indie author is still from those early golddigger days.

In that carefree time when I first started out, way back in 2012, even a *short story collection* offered free was enough to boost visibility and garner sales for the more lucrative longer works.

No more.

Now it is hard to even give short story collections away on Amazon (although they do still sell on other venues). And for a free run with a novella or novel to result in any kind of significant bump in sales after it’s over, you have to give away tens of thousands of copies of your book.

So I’ve had to switch gears. In the last year or so, I’ve been testing various sites for advertising my books, as well as new book descriptions, new keywords, and new covers, and I’ve seen a steady rise in book sales, from income of under $50 a month to this:

I realize this is peanuts compared to really successful indie authors, but for me, it’s monetary proof that I’m going in the right direction. For about a year, from late 2013 to late 2014, I pretty much stopped marketing my books completely. I published Chameleon in a Mirror during that time, and it took off like a stone weighed down by a ton of bricks. But that does not seem to have had anything to do with the quality of the book — see my bestseller last month in the image above. 🙂

During my no marketing phase, my books were earning me between $40 – $70 a month. When I was ready to publish Island of Glass, I decided it was time to come out of my marketing slump and start regarding it as a challenge, an experiment, a puzzle I needed to figure out. Here are some of the strategies I’ve come up with during the last year of extensive experimentation.

Permafree

I had already put a short story from The Pendragon Chronicles up for free, but Gawain and Ragnell, even though it is part of A Shadow of Stone, has its own complete plot arc — and thus provides no compelling reason for anyone to read the other books, other than enthusiasm for my brilliant writing, of course. But it has no hook; it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. Readers claim they hate this, but book 2 in a series is more likely to find buyers if book 1 ends leaving lots of questions unaswered.

Since my Pendragon books were meant to be standalone novels, I went a different way to attract more readers: I split up my monster book, Yseult (200,000 words, or 800 manuscript pages), into the four “books” I had already organized it in and published them each separately. Once I managed to make Part I free, I had a cliffhanger book to entice readers to buy either the next book or the complete “boxed set.” And I also now had 2 free “books” in the series that I could alternately promote cheaply or free. (See my blog post on promoting permafrees.)

With some experimenting along these lines, I noticed that as long as I could keep at least one of those two permafree books in the top 20 of the Arthurian Fantasy Free rankings, it helped get me regular sales of Yseult. The Arthurian Fantasy category is small, so it’s not as hard to stay high in the rankings, but by the same token, it doesn’t attract as many readers who will then pick up your higher-priced book or books. I’m pretty sure that if you can keep a permafree high in the rankings of a much bigger category like Epic Fantasy, you would see higher sales of the related book.

Organize promotions around effective advertisers

Don’t set your promo prices and dates and then go looking for advertising. Do it the other way around.

I invested quite a bit last year, in both time and money, testing various advertising sites for ROI (return on investment). You can certainly take my own recommendations as a guideline, but the thing is, your results might be very different. A number of advertising sites recommended on Kboards were a washout for me. Garnering a BookBub ad will pretty much always guarantee a good ROI. But not only are they hard to get, they are very expensive, and not all authors will be able to afford their prices.

Some of the places (besides BookBub) I will build a book promotion around are ENT, BookBarbarian, ManyBooks, and RobinReads. I’ve had less than stellar results with BargainBooksy and any number of sites other authors swear by. That’s why you can’t get around investing in your own experiments, at least a little. I started my experimental marketing investing in sites that authors on Kboards recommended — but of those, there were quite a few that for me had a pretty miserable ROI. You can read some of my results in this post.

The thing is, there is no magic bullet. But while a number of ad sites didn’t pay out for me, in those months I’ve seen a steady increase in sales — with no month that my investment was higher than the money I earned from my books. So as a whole, the increase in visibility is worth it.

After the last few months of experimentation in advertising, I’ve come to the conclusion that most indie authors who are serious about selling on a regular basis won’t be able to get around doing some similar experiments for their own books. Several of the advertisers I had the biggest hopes for turned out to be my biggest disappointments, while some less well known gave me surprising jumps in sales. Genre, cover, subscriber tastes — so much plays a role, it’s hard to say which book will do well with which advertiser.

Some generalizations I can make, regardless of genre and / or experience:

– Before paying money for advertising, try to figure out the reach of the web site or list. If they do not provide any numbers themselves, Alexa rankings might be a good place to start. I have a list of Alexa rankings here.

– Once you have figured out the advertising sites that work for you, apply for an ad with one of your favorites well in advance, usually about a month, and chose the option that your dates are flexible. If your book is accepted, plan your promotion around the effective advertiser, applying for some free or less expensive ads in the days leading up to it.

– Try to do a 99c advertising campaign with at least one of your books a month. (I don’t advocate free anymore, except for permafree.)

– Don’t use the same advertiser and the same book every time. Ads are much more effective if you haven’t advertised a book through the same service in at least six months. Obviously, this strategy works better the more books you have to advertise. If you only have two novels published, concentrate on getting more out before you start experimenting with advertising the way I did. To remain visible as an author with this strategy you would probably need at least four novels or longer novellas, preferably more. (Short stories and collections do not work to boost my visibility.)

Description and Cover

If you can’t get any of the big, more effective advertisers to accept your book, despite the fact that your manuscript isn’t riddled with typos and you have a fair number of positive reviews (don’t believe the myths circulating about the astronomical numbers you need to get a BookBub ad), then it might be time to re-evaluate the presentation of your book.

I am convinced that the single most important thing for selling books is your cover. It’s the first thing your potential reader sees, and if it isn’t interesting or eye-catching enough for him or her to click on it, you’re losing sales right there.

I’ve done several cover makeovers recently, one myself for Chameleon in a Mirror, and two for my Looking Through Lace Series with new covers designed by Lou Harper. All of those books saw dramatic increases in sales / downloads when I did a promo for the book with the new cover compared to the results with the old. Note: you can’t expect a book that’s dead in the water to come back to life with a new cover. If your book is in the lower dregs of Amazon somewhere that no one will ever see it, and you don’t do some kind of promo to increase its visibility, it will remain in the lower dregs of Amazon, despite its stunning new cover.

I have also seen significant increases in sales after changing my descriptions. One of the most effective things I have found for the new product format on Amazon (which only makes the first few lines of the description visible without the customer having to become active and click on “Read more”) is to start with enthusiastic “sound bites” from reader reviews. Here’s an example:

Once I changed the description to make a number of positive reviews plus a teaser prominent in the mini space which is now the Amazon default, I saw a much better conversion rate for the low-level ($1 a day) Facebook ads I’ve been using to try and keep my books from disappearing into obscurity. Now I just have to find formulas for my other books that are as consistent as Chameleon in a Mirror is right now. 🙂

But the operative phrase is “right now.” The thing is, the ebook market is constantly changing, and as an indie author, you have to be willing to change with it: keep abreast of marketing trends, and changes in Amazon, Kobo, Apple, or anywhere else you sell your books. If you really want to make a living selling your books, you’re not going to get around doing your own experimenting, or keeping abreast of changes in the market. You can take this information I’m giving you as a basis to do your own experiments, but my results are based on my books, my covers, my descriptions, and can’t be carried over 1 to 1 to your books, your covers, your descriptions. All I can offer you here are guidelines based on my own experience, some possible ways to develop your own strategy to lift your books out of the doldrums.

In Conclusion

During my Year of Experimentation (following my Year of Marketing Dangerously / i.e. Not at All *g*), I tried plenty of THIS IS THE WAY YOU WILL IMMEDIATELY SELL SH*TLOADS OF EBOOKS strategies. Some of them increased my sales, most of them didn’t. On the other hand, most of those strategies sold as get rich quick schemes have some basis is fact — but they don’t take the individual book or the individual genre into consideration. And many are based on creating cheap non-fiction ebooks written specifically to a niche market.

Those kinds of marketing strategies don’t really work for fiction. In my experience, you just can’t get around testing things yourself for what will work for your own books.

But researching the sites and strategies that have worked for other authors can certainly make the task much easier. And I hope those of you looking for better ways to market your ebooks find this helpful. 🙂

Results of BookBub ad in the UK for Chameleon in a Mirror

Last year, 2015, I sold an average of 8 books a month in the UK. As many of you know who read this blog, I had a UK only BookBub ad for my literary time travel, Chameleon in a Mirror, earlier this month. Right now I have 124 sales and 6205 pages read across all titles in the UK. Last month, it was 4 sales and 1235 pages read, total.

Here are the best UK rankings I saw during the sale for CIAM:

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #781 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Books > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#3 in Books > Fiction > Fantasy > Historical
#8 in Kindle Store > Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

Chameleon in a Mirror #1

The ad cost $100. Income in the UK since the ad went live has been 75 pounds, plus 4100 pages of CIAM read. All together, that comes to about $130 in UK income for Chameleon since the BookBub ad, dependent on exchange rate and what the payout for pages read will end up being this month. CIAM sold nothing in the UK the previous month (December 2015), so it’s safe to say that most of that income is a result of the BookBub ad.

Added benefit: my other books are selling a bit more there as well.

During the sale, CIAM sold 95 copies in the UK, 2 of those before the BookBub ad went live. Now, a week later, sales are up to 115. Here’s the ranking of the book in the UK today:

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #13,305 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#17 in Kindle Store > Books > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#28 in Books > Fiction > Fantasy > Historical
#62 in Kindle Store > Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

Since the BookBub ad, CIAM has consistently been selling a couple of copies a day, and is still in several top #100 lists. At the end of the sale, I started a Facebook ad targeting UK readers with a whopping budget of $1 a day, and since I don’t have an Amazon Affiliates account for co.uk, which would help me track where sales are coming from, I can’t say whether the regular sales are a result of the BookBub ad, or the dollar a day Facebook ad I started after the promo. So I can’t attribute all of those sales and pages read to BookBub. But it certainly got the ball rolling, and I’m trying to keep the book from disappearing into obscurity too quickly with the Facebook ad.

To summarize: I would definitely take another UK only ad with BookBub if that was all they wanted to offer me. The increase in visibility is amazing, and despite the cost, I have made something of a profit and continue to do so. That’s a win in my book. 🙂

5 Ways to Promote Your Free Book 1 Series Starter – via Lindsay Buroker

I’ve mentioned before on this site that permafree can be a good method of getting eyes on your books, even if it is no longer as effective as it used to be. This week, Lindsay Buroker has some great suggestions on how to push those free books, despite Amazon’s attempts to hide them:

5 Ways to Promote Your Free Book 1 Series Starter

Highly recommended!

And once you have read that, you might want to check out my list of places where you can advertise permafree books.

Luck and skill to all. 🙂

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Alexa rankings for eBook ad sites

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Using Alexa

A couple of days ago, I blogged about the results of my most recent 99c sale — which went better than anything I’ve done since the last time I took out a BookBub ad, oh so long ago. It appears I’m getting a bit savvier about where to advertise.

So how do you go about deciding if a place is worth it for you to plop down the hard earned money you’ve made elsewhere in the hopes of someday making enough from writing to quit your day job? Well, I’m glad you asked that run-on question, because I’m going to tell you. The first thing I usually do is go to Kboards.com and search for the ad site I’m considering using to see if there has already been a discussion about it. Then I google the name of the site with something like “advertising” and “results” and other such search terms, to see if I can find out if other writers have been satisfied with the service. Sometimes (probably not often enough), I’ve checked the rankings on Alexa to see if the site really does get the kind of traffic it claims.

You can get into a rut with advertising, if you keep using the same sites over and over that have been successful for you before. It makes sense to hit different sites with (hopefully) different subscribers and readers who may not have seen your book before. So I found a couple of lists with sites I was unfamiliar with — adding up to so many that I knew any time I tried to figure out which to try, I would be end up feeling swamped and wouldn’t bother after all.

So I decided to sacrifice a couple of hours and weed out the lists a bit using Alexa. And since I’d gone ahead and done all that work anyway, I figured I might as well share it with my blog readers.

This ranking is by no means a guarantee of the effectiveness of any given ad site. Many sites are only for authors, with the ads appearing on Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites. Many sites these days inform their readers of deals through email, and aside from ad pages for authors, the site is little more than a sign-up for the email list.

Also, some sites only cater to select genres. I was very pleased with the results of my ad with Book Barbarian, for example, which is not exactly stellar in this ranking. But they only promote sff, so they are targeting precisely the readers I want to reach. And at a price tag of only $8, I suspect they are one of the better deals for writers in my genre. I fully intend to use their services again — with a different book next time. 🙂

But the thing is, an outrageously low ranking probably indicates that you are not going to see much of a result from a listing with that site. The worst ranking I encountered was 15,000,000 — and it didn’t even offer free ads. I did not include that site on my list. This irregular blog comes in at a little over 600,000, after all, to give you some comparison. (Which I only learned while writing this post. *g*) And I assure you, none of you wants to give me money to plug your book, although I would be happy to take it …

Price is another thing to take into consideration when weighing whether to advertise with any of the sites listed here. Not surprisingly, BookBub has the highest Alexa ranking. But the prices they charge are also far more than many indie authors can afford.

Since I compiled this list for my own use, when not otherwise noted, the ranking is for US traffic, which is where about 95% of my sales come from, making it most important to me. By the same token, I didn’t even check romance sites, since I do not write romance, at least not yet. I also did not bother to include any sites above a ranking of 500,000 if they don’t provide a free advertising option. I make no apologies for that, and no claim in the first place that this list is anywhere near complete. It was intended for my personal use, and I just happen to be sharing it with you. 🙂 Finally, I want to emphasize once more that this ranking alone does not indicate how effective an ad placed with one of these sites will be, given how many different factors play a role. It can only be one of several data points influencing the decision where to take out an ad. AND it is only current at the time of this writing (Sept. 10, 2015). Alexa rankings may be completely different a month from now.

The sites not already listed on my other promo pages (here, here, and here) I got either at http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/2015/02/35-alternatives-to-bookbub/ or http://www.readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promotion-sites. You can use those to compile you own rankings for advertising purposes. 🙂

Now on to Ruth Nestvold’s personal Alexa ranking list of ebook advertising sites:

https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing
2,176 US; 8,393 global

http://new.ereaderiq.com/advertise/
8,082

http://robinreads.com/author-signup/
9,683

https://ohfb.com/kindle-book-advertising-for-authors-and-publishers.html
16,171

http://manybooks.net/promote.php
17,124

http://digitalbookspot.com/ (bknights on Fiverr)
18,275

http://freebooksy.com/editorial-submissions
19,662

https://www.themidlist.com/submit
22,810

http://www.dailyfreebooks.com/promote-your-kindle-book.html
25,940

http://ereadernewstoday.com/bargain-and-free-book-submissions/ (ENT)
29,576

http://www.bookgorilla.com/advertise
37,273

http://digitalbooktoday.com/
38,161

http://www.theereadercafe.com/p/authors.html
45,262

http://blog.booksontheknob.org/subscribe-about-contact/authors-read-this
58,972

http://booksends.com/advertise.php
55,240

http://authors.choosybookworm.com/newsletter-and-website-feature/
56,149

http://fkbt.com/for-authors/
60,736

http://ebookstage.com/authorAreaPage.xhtml
75,536

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/submissions/
76,876

https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/advertise-books-2/
78,724

http://www.thefussylibrarian.com/for-authors/
82,796

https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/advertise-books-2/
98,369

http://bargainbooksy.com/for-authors
100,705

http://bookgoodies.com/submit-your-free-kindle-days/highlight-your-free-kindle-days/
116,216

http://www.xtme.de/submitting-a-free-e-book-to-xtmeenglishbooks/
130,042 global; 7,738 Germany

http://www.freebookshub.com/authors/
131,056

http://www.bargainebookhunter.com (can be booked through Hotzippy)
134,201

http://ereadergirl.com/submit-your-ebook/
161,376; NZ 2,827

http://askdavid.com/for-authors
161,996 global; United Kingdom 24,180 (also ranks in India and the US)

http://bookbarbarian.com/why-advertise/
179,531

http://www.freebooks.com/submit/
188,008

http://readingdeals.com/submit-ebook
188,357

http://www.ebooksoda.com/authors/
199,297

http://www.bookbasset.com/authors/submissions/
200,900

http://beezeebooks.com/book-promotion/
206,871 global; 975 New Zealand; also India

http://www.frugal-freebies.com/p/submit-freebie.html
211,208

http://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/
211,254

http://readcheaply.com/partners/
213,980

http://www.iloveebooks.com/for-authors.html
222,842

http://addictedtoebooks.com/content/free-advertising
224,161

http://ebookshabit.com/for-authors/
237,735

http://www.freeebooksdaily.com/p/promote-your-free-book.html
248,641

http://www.booksbutterfly.com/order?tag=readersintheknow
251,520

http://indiebookoftheday.com/authors/free-on-kindle-listing/
251,886

http://www.ebooklister.net/submit.php
279,609

http://www.book-circle.com/submit-free-kindle-ebook-listing/
300,000+ global; 3,000 Phillipines

http://bookpraiser.com/submit-book/
293,107

http://www.ebookhounds.com/pricing/
308,789

http://ebookasaurus.com/authors/
318,623 (global)

http://www.bookbuzzr.com/plans.php
329,155

http://bettybookfreak.com/authors/
367,548

http://www.goodkindles.net/p/submit-your-book.html
371,292

http://booktastik.com/pricing-sale-estimates/
380,520

http://www.freebookdude.com/search/label/Promote%20with%20The%20Book%20Dude
413,117

http://www.peoplereads.com/list-your-ebook
518,197

http://lovelybookpromotions.com
593,211

http://contentmo.com/submit-your-free-ebook-promo
618,531; global 401,223

http://freediscountedbooks.com/submit/
620,927

http://www.armadilloebooks.com/
904,702 global

Hope you all find the list useful. 🙂

Effectiveness of ads for a 99c promo: Results for Yseult

Last week, I had a 99c sale for Yseult running, for which I took out several paid ads — none of them BookBub. *g* I promised to provide a summary of the results once the promo was over.

Here are the ads I took out and the dates they appeared:

Book Barbarian – Aug. 31 ($8)
Booklovers Heaven – Aug. 31 (Free)
Manybooks.net – Aug. 31 (Free)

Books Butterfly – Sept 2 ($50)

Bargain Booksy – Sept. 4 ($40)

For the week, I spent a total of $98 for advertising. At the beginning of the promotion, Yseult was at #511,349 on Amazon.com. The highest it reached during the week of the promotion was #7,555 on Sept. 3, according to the sales info on Author Central. Here is one of the better results caught as screenshot:

Arthurian fiction bestsellers

It actually made it up to #4 in Arthurian Fiction at one point, but I forgot to take a screenshot. 🙂

Here is how the sales during the week broke down:

Book Barbarian – Aug. 31 ($8)
Booklovers Heaven – Aug. 31 (Free)
Manybooks.net – Aug. 31 (Free)

Between Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, before the Books Butterfly ad came out, I had 38 sales in the US and 2 in the UK. Before the ads came out, there were 2 sales. So I’m sure that most of those sales were a result of the ads, but since they were all on the same day I’m not sure exactly where the sales came from. Nonetheless, excellent ROI, and well worth using again. Perhaps next time on different days, so that I have a better idea which ones work best.

Books Butterfly – Sept 2 ($50)

After the Books Butterfly ad, I had another 47 sales in the US and 4 in the UK. In absolute terms, that means I lost money, but it is also the ad that pushed my visibility up the most and got me into some top ten lists.

Bargain Booksy – Sept. 4 ($40)

After the BargainBooksy ad, I sold another 30 copies of the book in the US and 1 in the UK. For me, in terms of ROI, this was the least effective of the ads I took out.

As I mentioned last week, I deliberately spaced the more expensive paid ads with a day in between so that I’d have a better idea of their effectiveness. When I’ve tested ads before, I’ve tended to do a different ad every day, which makes it more difficult to figure out which ads got me the sales, since there is always spillover.

To my way of thinking, with my limping sales in the past months, this promo was a definite success. Not only did I sell over 130 copies of the book (meaning I recouped the costs of the ads), I also sold several copies of Shadow of Stone, #2 in The Pendragon Chronicles, and paperbacks of Yseult as well — something that hasn’t happened in a long time. 🙂 Even my freebies in the series have a lot more downloads now than they did this time last month.

And now that the book has returned to full price, I’ve made a couple more sales, and seem to have several readers borrowing it, to judge by the pages read in my dashboard.

I promised to compile these results with those of other 99c sales I’ve done, but it’s late now in Central Europe, and I think I’m going to save the summary post for next week.

Anyway, I’m very happy with the results, even if some of them were quite different than expected. But I’m paying for that as well, and will know better what to use next time I schedule a promo for one of my books. 🙂

Back to the Evil Dowager Princess for #WIPpet Wednesday

Even with all the guests gone, I’m *still* not back to serious writing. As some of you may have already noticed, I have a 99c sale on Yseult running this week, the first marketing gig I’ve set up in a couple of months. While I have a number of ads running, I have also been doing some of the standard social media stuff.

I also tried to get a Facebook ad set up for Chameleon in a Mirror today, to test the clickability of the new cover image. Steep learning curve there, since I’ve never done a Facebook ad before, and the fact that I live in Europe and want to advertise to the US seems to complicate things a bit. Nor am I a Canva expert, which is what I used to create the image to go with the ad.

Chameleon in a Mirror

Even though they have templates for Facebook ads, I think next time I just use Photoshop. Let me know what you think!

Since Monday, I’ve only managed to get 600 new words written. That’s what marketing does to a gal … But without marketing, I don’t sell a damn thing (or close), and when I don’t sell a damn thing, I get frustrated and don’t feel like writing anymore. Which is why I have finally made my peace with the need to market. 🙂

Next up, WIPpet Wednesday! We are back to the evil shenanigans of the Dowager Princess, in a scene from Facets of Glass which I hope will speak for itself. 11 short paragraphs for 9 + 2:

The apple was lost, but Dowager Princess Zilia had other items from Chiara’s hand with which to find the wayward glassmaker. Before she sent Gaetano to Bohemia, she needed to know the glassworks where Chiara was working in Prague.
“Here, take this goblet,” she said, giving the witch a wine glass with delicate slopping sides that opened out much like the petals of a lily. “I need to find out more about the person who made it.”
Vanna caressed the wooden frame of the mirror and then stepped back. “Magic mirror please show to me,
“Where the maker of this goblet might be.”
After their reflections faded, a glassmaker’s workshop once again took shape in the mirror. This time, Chiara had what looked like a giant pair of tweezers in her hand and was plucking at a blob of glass on a rod. As interesting as this insight into glassmaking might be, it was not what Zilia wanted.
“Can the mirror show us the outside of the building?”
Vanna nodded. “Magic mirror, please move away.
“Out of the door and into the day.”
Zilia found herself wondering why the mirror had to be spoken to only in rhymes. Perhaps it wasn’t even for the mirror and instead was more for the client who booked Vanna’s services?
Either way, it worked. Chiara’s figure disappeared into the mists swirling through the mirror, and shortly thereafter, the image of a narrow lane with colorful houses appeared. As the image slowly focused on the front of the house, the dowager princess could discern a large window with a display of glass vases, beakers, goblet, and bowls. Above the window stood the German name “Friedrich Glas Prag.”
Zilia smiled. Now she knew where to order the glass coffin.

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.

Promoting your 99c sale revisited: Yseult, A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur

Yseult: A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur

About two years ago now, I pulled Yseult and Shadow of Stone, my two big doorstopper Arthurian novels, from KDP Select and went wide with them. Unfortunately, I was never able to get any traction with them on other sales sites, even with a couple of permafree titles. So when Amazon changed it’s payment model for borrows, I pulled them from all other sites and re-enrolled them in Select. At official KENPCs (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count) of around 1000 pages each, when those are books are read to the end as borrows, they earn me almost four times as much for a borrow as in the old system — and they earn me more than for a direct sale too. 🙂

But as I have pointed out before, you can make neither sales nor a borrow if you don’t get your book in front of people. This summer has been crazy busy, and I haven’t had a lot of time to set up advertising. Now I finally have a Countdown Deal set up for Yseult this week, during which I will be testing a few more 99c promotional gigs. BookBub is not among them. I am trying to find out what advertising opportunities are out there for which you do not need to shell out hundreds of dollars. Next week, I will post my results, as well as summaries of several other 99c promotions I’ve done in previous months with the ads I bought for them.

Another thing I’ll be tracking is the ranking of Yseult. Before the promotion started, it was at #511,349 on Amazon.com. I have already had two sales, and now it is at #97,793.

This week, I’ll be testing the following ad sites:

Book Barbarian – Aug. 31 ($8)
Booklovers Heaven – Aug. 31 (Free)
Manybooks.net – Aug. 31 (Free)

Books Butterfly – Sept 2 ($50)

Bargain Booksy – Sept. 4 ($40)

I’ve also applied for a number of other free ads, but I haven’t received confirmation that my book will be carried, so I’m assuming it won’t be running on any of the other sites besides ManyBooks and Booklover’s Heaven.

I deliberately spaced the more expensive paid ads with a day in between so that I’ll have a better idea which ones are actually effective. When I’ve done this kind of thing before with a different ad every day, it ends up being hard to figure out how many of the sales are from the ad of the day, or from the ad that ran the day before.

Watch this space next week, when I will post my results, and provide a summary of ads for other 99c sales I’ve tested. 🙂

“10 Tips for Choosing the Right Book Title” via Anne R. Allen

I just read an excellent article on book titles in the ebook age that I had to share with readers of this blog. Take for example all the great advice in Tip #3 alone:

3) Study Titles that Work

Here are some title categories that are “tried and true.”

The hero’s name
This is the oldest type of title in the book, literally. A title simply stating the name of the protagonist has been around since the birth of the novel. Names made up the most common titles in early fiction. From Don Quixote, Tom Jones, Robinson Crusoe, David Copperfield, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Madam Bovary, Mrs. Dalloway, and Auntie Mame, to Olive Kitteridge and Coraline, the protagonist’s name can be a pretty safe choice for a title.

Then there are protagonist’s names with embellishments like The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, Charlotte’s Web, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and The Talented Mr. Ripley

The antagonist’s name

Sometimes the villain gets top billing, as with Moby Dick, Hannibal, and Jaws.

Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is one of the most clever villain titles, because even though Rebecca DeWinter is dead, she casts a shadow over the entire story. The fact the main character has no name but “the second Mrs. DeWinter” makes this title all the more compelling.

The main character’s occupation or title:

The Master Builder, The Vagabond, The Sot Weed Factor, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Master and Commander, The Continental Op, The Good Soldier, Gladiator.

A family member’s occupation or title:

The Mermaid’s Sister, The Duke’s Children, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Father of the Bride, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, The Baker’s Daughter, The Unicorn’s Daughter, The Bonesetter’s Daughter.

You’ve probably noticed that daughters have been in vogue recently. Here’s a piece with an infographic showing how titles involving daughters have expanded in recent years.)

Setting is good:

Mansfield Park, The Country of the Pointed Firs, Brokeback Mountain, Wuthering Heights, Cold Mountain, Mystic River, Echo Park, Dune, Tinseltown, Telegraph Avenue.

These let readers know where the story happens—which helps them decide if they want to go there. Remember you want your title and cover to give as much information as possible to your potential reader without confusing or overwhelming them.

Or use the setting with embellishments:

The Amityville Horror, Murders on the Rue Morgue, The Last Time I Saw Paris, The Incident at Owl Creek Bridge, The Bridges of Madison County

The main character’s place of origin

The Virginian, Bastard Out of Carolina, The Man from Snowy River

The main event or inciting incident:

The Hunger Games, The Great Train Robbery, Escape from Alcatraz, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The Death of Ivan Ilyich….(or practically anybody). “Main event” titles are informative and contain the hook, so they’re great choices.

Theme:

These advertise the book’s big picture: Pride and Prejudice, Of Mice and Men, War and Peace, The Beautiful and the Damned. These are especially good for literary fiction.

Quotes from the Bible, nursery rhymes or the classics:

A Time to Kill, The Sun Also Rises, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, Blithe Spirit, Along Came a Spider, The Golden Apples of the Sun, Tender is the Night, Infinite Jest, His Dark Materials

In fact there are so many from classic literature they have their own Wikipedia page.

Quotes from songs or song titles:

Catcher in the Rye, Go Down Moses, Norwegian Wood, Sometimes a Great Notion, and most of Mary Higgins Clark’s oeuvre from While My Pretty One Sleeps (1990) to I’ve Got You Under My Skin (2014)

NOTE: If you take a line from a song rather than the title, make sure it’s in the public domain. Song titles can’t be copyrighted, but quoting even one line from a copyrighted song can cost you big bux.

Lines from the work itself:

The Silence of the Lambs is a reference to Clarice being traumatized in childhood by screaming lambs.)

To Kill a Mockingbird also comes from the book’s dialogue, as do Gone with the Wind and Waiting to Exhale.
….

Now get you over the read the rest of this great advice here.

Results of recent promos, and more with Minerva for #WIPpet Wednesday

I’m exhausted. I’ve been running around with granddaughters all day today, and I am definitely noticing in my bones that I’m not as young as I used to be. They have Fasching vacation right now (the German Mardi Gras), and we have them overnight. I took them to the first really huge mall here, which opened in November, making good on a Christmas present I gave them. My feet hurt.

I wasn’t really feeling like posting as a result, but I didn’t post last week either — also because of various stuff taking up my time — but I don’t want to get that much out of the habit. Besides, I have some pretty good results from recent promos to report. Not to forget the words, and WIPpet Wednesday. 🙂

My word count dropped down again last week, but it makes a lot of sense to me. Much of what I was doing was brainstorming the next book in the Glassmakers trilogy. In my experience, the real word counts come when the book is pretty much worked out in my mind, and all I have to do is fill in the details. That is not the case with Shards of Glass. I have the general idea, but the specific plot points are vague. As a result, I only got 4300 words done last week, compared to 6200 the week before, and 8000 the week before that.

Another thing that has put a crimp in the word counts has been some renewed tests of marketing strategies — which also require thought and time. At least I can announce that this weeks’ promos have been going amazingly well.

1) Yesterday, Bknights (Fiverr) promoted the free first book of Yseult, Two Women, from my new, episodic version of my monster novel. Since then, Yseult I has gotten over 300 downloads, when it usually gets 10 – 15 a day. There have been 4 new sales of parts 2 & 3, only one day later, which nearly earn out the whopping $5.50 I paid for the Fiverr ad to give the series a boost.

The ranking for Yseult, Two Women is now as follows:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #911 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Arthurian
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

2) I did a 3 day free run of Looking Through Lace this week, ending today, using only the free sites listed on my updated blog post on where to promote a free run. LTL has had over 700 downloads on Amazon.com alone as a result, and Book 2, Beyond the Waters of the World, has also had a couple more sales than usual. Here the present ranking of LTL:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #490 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > First Contact
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Exploration

Of course, all this proves for certain right now is that I know how to give a lot of books away without spending too much money. *g* But those rankings provide visibility, and visibility is one of the main things that sell books. And one day after the ad, I have nearly nearly out the cost through sales of subsequent books in the “series.” *g*

With that update, on to WIPpet Wednesday! The end of January, I finished the rough draft of Facets of Glass, Book 2 of the Glassmakers trilogy. But right now, I have FoG and Shards of Glass (Book 3) in one Scrivener file, so that I can skip back and forth when I notice that an idea I come up with for SoG requires some tweaking in FoG. So I will probably continue to post from Facets of Glass until I actually publish it. 🙂

This snippet comes directly after the one I gave you two weeks ago. 7 paragraphs, 8 – 1 from the day of the month:

He tossed the wine she’d given him back as if it were water and put the glass on the tray Guilia held. Minerva nodded, and the serving girl turned and left with the empty glass.
“Thank you for the refreshment, Signorina,” the footman said. “Would you care to take your gift now so that I may return to my employer?”
She grimaced. “You are right to admonish me. I should not tease so. Everyone tells me that, yet I cannot seem to resist.” She accepted the gift box and opened the lid.
When she saw the glass apple nestled in the wood shavings, she almost dropped the box. One hand went to the heart pendant she wore on a chain around her neck — the work of her step-sister, Chiara. Was this glass apple also from Chiara’s hand? If so, what did it mean? Chiara would never send anything to Minerva directly, it would be too much of a risk.
Carefully, Minerva lifted the apple out and laid the box aside. The leaves, the stem, the fading of the glass from red to green, all showed great artistry and attention to detail. She had seen many examples of Chiara’s work since they became step-sisters, and she liked to imagine she would recognize it anywhere.
Then she turned the apple over and saw the wormhole — and she was sure. This was from Chiara’s hand.
She clutched the apple to her chest and looked up at the man who had brought the gift, suddenly realizing where she had seen him before. “You! What are you doing dressed like a footman and bringing this to me? You are one of the personal guards of Dowager Princess Zilia!”

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: Where to promote permafree books

Starting out as an indie author

I’ve talked before about how permafree can be used as a marketing strategy for ebooks. Permafree is indie author shorthand for permanently free. Many sales venues allow you to set the price of your book to free; others do not, most notably Amazon. But it is still possible to make a book free there, either through price-matching, or by writing Amazon directly, listing the other sites where your book is free, and pointing out the promotional advantage of having the book free. As an example, here is the email I sent which finally resulted in Yseult: Two Women going free:

Hello,

I’ve been trying for some time to get my ebook “Yseult, Part I: Two Women” price-matched using the link “tell us about a lower price,” but until now I’ve had no luck, which is why I am contacting you directly. The ebook is free on Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Google Play and elsewhere. I would be grateful if you could price match it for me on all Amazon sites. I am making Part I free to encourage sales of other books in the series which will be on sale with Amazon. Part 2 is already on Amazon and I intend to launch Part 3 & 4 once Part 1 is free.

Details below. If you need any further information, please let me know. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Sincerely,
Ruth Nestvold

Title: Yseult, Part I: Two Women, ASIN: B00NFPE1T8

Free on the following sites (among others):

iTunes store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id917430003

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/yseult-part-i-ruth-nestvold/1120330113?ean=2940046328080&itm=1&usri=2940046328080

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Ruth_Nestvold_Yseult_Part_1_Two_Women?id=yip_BAAAQBAJ

Yseult, Part 1: Two Women

That letter finally did the job. 🙂

Permafree works in a number of ways. With permafree, for example, you can upload the complete book chapter by chapter to Wattpad, potentially gaining new readers — and without worrying about losing money, since the book is free anyway. You can also upload a “preview” file on Goodreads that contains the complete text of your permafree, as I have done.

In my recent experience, permafree is most effective if it ends on a cliffhanger. This goes totally against my own preferences and beliefs, as well as all the reader complaints about serial novels and cliffhangers, but sales figures don’t lie. Yseult: Two Women has resulted in increased sales — including Books II, III and IV, which I didn’t actually intend to sell, hoping readers would add up the price of the individual parts and just go for the complete novel if they were interested enough to keep reading. But last month, my profits from the individual books of Yseult were almost equal to that of the complete book containing all four parts. Go figure.

In previous posts, I’ve listed places to promote a temporary free promo, as well as a 99c sale for ebooks. But since not all sites that will promote a free run will take permafree titles, I decided for my own sake, as well as yours, to compile a list of those sites are open to permafree titles (or that at least do not specifically exclude them).

Free:

Reading Deals – Books should be a minimum of 50 pages long and have at least 5 reviews and a 4 star average. $29 for a guaranteed listing.
http://readingdeals.com/submit-ebook

Ask David: http://askdavid.com/free-ebook-promotion

Read Free.ly: http://www.readfree.ly/ourservices/

Frugal Freebies: http://www.frugal-freebies.com/p/submit-freebie.html

eBookLister – Rating of 3.5 or higher with a minimum of 5 reviews. (Note: If you’ve submitted a freebie for the same book before, you get an error message stating that your listing will be corrected.) http://www.ebooklister.net/submit.php

Digital Book Today – Free and paid; books must be at least 100 pages long and have at least 18 reviews with a rating of 4 or higher. No erotica.

FreeBookSy – Free and paid.

Choosy Bookworm – Free and paid. Book must be at least 70 pages long & have at least 8 reviews with a 4+ average.

Free Books

Awesomegang – $10 for a guaranteed listing. http://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/

Indie Book of the Day – http://indiebookoftheday.com/authors/free-on-kindle-listing/

Book Angel – Book must be PG-13! http://bookangel.co.uk/submit-your-book/

SF Signal Free Fiction Tip Line (For science fiction and fantasy) https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1RpB9C2_urRBU6AigCZwFuxuhhjNTt5qKX0Yzlnw09VA/viewform

Paid:

BKnights on Fiverr – $5.50 (a “fiver” plus processing fee). https://www.fiverr.com/bknights

Sweet Free Books – $7. At least 5 reviews and a 3.5 rating. http://sweetfreebooks.com/advertise/

Booklover’s Heaven – $5. Requires at least 10 reviews and a rating of 4 or higher.

Digital Book Today ($20 for a one month listing. No erotica.) http://digitalbooktoday.com/purchase-ad-perma-free-books-page/

Ereader News Today (ENT. Books must be at least 125 pages. Prices starting at $30, according to genre. No erotica.) http://ereadernewstoday.com/requirements/

BookRaid – Pricing per click, starting at 5c, with a minimum threshold of $2 — so at less than 40 clicks, the listing is free. Maximum charge $10. For fiction, the book must be at least 120 pages long. It cannot have been promoted in the last 8 weeks.
https://bookraid.com/

Freebooksy (Prices starting at $40, according to genre.) http://freebooksy.com/for-the-authors/

Book Basset – $7.99 per day. Requires at least 10 reviews with a rating of 3.5 or higher. Will only feature a book once every six months. No erotica or specifically adult content. http://www.bookbasset.com/authors/submissions/guaranteed-freebie/

Books Butterfly (Prices start at $50 per 500 guaranteed downloads) http://www.booksbutterfly.com/order/freebookslots/

One Hundred Free Books – Listings start at $75. http://ohfb.com/author-free-kindle-book-submission.html

I am always on the lookout for more ways of getting the word out about permafree books, so if anyone has any tips, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

If you found this blog post helpful, perhaps you would be interested in the book, Starting Out as an Indie Author! You can learn more here.