Tag Archives: Yseult

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. 🙂

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.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Promo: Free, or Free with Kindle Unlimited!

St. Patrick's Day Promo

** THE ST.PATRICK’S DAY MEGA SALE & GIVEAWAY **
All books are FREE or FREE with Kindle Unlimited! Multiple retailers, multiple genres, fabulous authors! Grab ’em now while the deals are HOT, then enter the giveaway for a chance to win a Kindle or Amazon gift certificate!

My contribution to the promo is Yseult, Part I: Two Women, which takes place in ancient Ireland. Thought that would be appropriate. 🙂

NOTE: A number of the books in this promo are only free if you have Kindle Unlimited, so do be careful when clicking on the links!

Have fun browsing. 🙂

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. 🙂

Starting out as an Indie Author: Writing blurbs for your books

The importance of your book description for making a sale

I had already started writing this installment of my series for indie authors, when I saw these results from the Fussy Librarian reader poll:

Question: When you’re looking for a new ebook, which is most likely to persuade you to buy? Please rank in order of priority.

Description: 3.51
Reading the first few pages: 2.23
Cover art: 2.13
Number of reviews and average rating: 2.13

1200 readers replied to this poll, so it is not something to sneeze at. And the description won hands down. (My own personal first would have been the first few pages, but I didn’t respond to the poll.)

As I mentioned in my post about what to do if your books aren’t selling, I regard the blurb as one of the most important things you need to consider changing if you want to increase sales. Once you have managed to get eyes on your book, and the reader has clicked on the image of your cover, the blurb is your first big chance to persuade her to click “buy.” And as the poll results above show, it’s worth spending some time on.

The “problem” of writing blurbs

I don’t claim to be the greatest writer of blurbs out there, but before publishing Yseult back in 2012, I studied a lot of book descriptions and read a lot of how-to articles and posts. I analyzed blurbs in my genre that I thought were effective and tried to figure out the best way to do it. One thing I admit I still have not figured out is how to write book descriptions for short story collections. My normal strategy is to describe the kinds of stories in the book and then provide short descriptions for two or three. It does not seem to be particularly effective. One of my collections, From Earth to Mars and Beyond, has probably sold less than a dozen copies total since I published it, which does not say a lot for my blurb-writing talents.

On the other hand, one of the short stories from the collection — which I meant to make free but still has not been price-matched on Amazon — is Mars: A Traveler’s Guide. I finally published it on Amazon at the beginning of January, and it has already sold more copies than From Earth to Mars and Beyond, the book I was hoping it would be a loss leader for. Now I’m reluctant to make it free on Amazon after all. *g* (For those freebie lovers out there, never fear: it is still free on most other sales sites.) Anyway, here’s the blurb:

Red Planet Adventures provides customized tours on Mars. Naturally, they have been optimized for safety. Soon, satellite coverage on the planet will even reach 100%! But what happens in the meantime … ?

Mars: A Traveler's Guide

This description might give you an idea of the problem a collection or anthology faces that a single work — be it short story, novella, or novel — does not have: it is the book itself that must somehow be described, and not the main dilemma of the plot.

Because it is precisely that which I am able to imply in the blurb of “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” — the dilemma. The story doesn’t have a character, but it definitely has a major dilemma. That short blurb preps the reader for catastrophe (or at least I hope it does. *g*)

And that is the single most important thing the book description must revolve around: the dilemma or problem. The catastrophe that is just around the corner.

“Fine,” you say, “but that’s a short story. It’s easy to summarize when there are no subplots, no huge cast of characters.”

Yes and no. My Mars story presented something of a challenge in the opposite direction since, as I already mentioned, it doesn’t have a character. The standard recipe for blurbs is a character in a place with a problem. But another necessary element which sometimes gets short shrift is the tone or voice. It’s a bit like the first couple of pages of your book. In those pages, you are making a pact with the reader, communicating to her the kind of story she is about to read. Your blurb has to do the same thing. So for my Mars blurb, I chose the voice of the story, “Red Planet Adventures” — with the exception of the last sentence, which is the implied catastrophe.

By contrast, my novel Yseult is a true mob novel, (metaphorically speaking) with tons of characters and subplots and historical goings on. Here is the description:

For the price of a truce, Yseult is sent to a world where magic is dying – to marry the father of the man she loves.

Marcus’s son Drystan would have saved her from a loveless marriage, but with her relatives being held hostage, Yseult cannot endanger them and must go through with the wedding. The tragic love story of Yseult and Drystan plays out against the backdrop of a violent world threatening to descend into the Dark Ages – only Arthur’s battles to push back the Saxon hordes can save what is left of civilization. With her background, Yseult could act as a bridge between the old age and the new – but will the price be too high?

Yseult is almost 200,000 words long. The German translation is a door-stopper of over 700 pages. (I used some formatting tricks with the CreateSpace version of the English to get the page count — and the price — down, but it was a lot of work.) Nonetheless, I managed to get the description down to a handful of sentences, only a few more than I needed for a 10 page story.

The big challenge in blurb writing is just that: distilling your story down to the bare essentials. Forget about getting all those cool characters and plot twists in. It’s all about condensing the main elements of your novel into a couple of short, snappy sentences. Skip the details, and cut to the chase!

And make it compelling.

What do the blurbs from successful books look like?

For some examples of truly successful books, here are the book descriptions of a couple of indie bestsellers in Epic Fantasy (one of my genres) at the time of this writing, that are right there next to GRRM and Joe Abercrombie and the like.

– Amazon #1: Lindsay Buroker, The Dragon Blood Collection, Books 1-3 (An indie author from whom I have learned much. I highly recommend subscribing to her blog. She is WAY WAY WAY more successful than I am. *g*). Here’s the description:

A thousand years have passed since a dragon has been seen in the world. Science and technology have replaced magic, which has dwindled until it has become little more than an element of myth and legend.

There are those who still have dragon blood flowing through their veins, distant descendants of the mighty creatures of old. These rare humans have the power to cast magic, the power to heal, and the power to craft alchemical weapons capable of starting wars… or ending them. But they are feared for those powers, and in recent centuries, they have been hunted nearly to extinction.

The few remaining survivors must find a way to change how humanity perceives them or be lost to the world forever.

– Amazon #6: Edward W. Robertson, The Cycle of Arawn: The Complete Epic Fantasy Trilogy:

Dante Galand is young. Penniless. Alone. But devoted to learning the dark magic of his world.

His quest will take him from the city gutters to a foreign land of sorcerers. To a war for independence. And finally, to another war–this time, for his people’s very survival.

Neither of these book descriptions provide the standard book blurb formula of a character in a place with a problem. Of course, “place” is not as important in fantasy, since the worlds are largely imagined. And both of these bestsellers are collections of novels. (As is #2, GRRM’s Kindle edition of Game of Thrones.) But it is interesting to note that Lindsay’s blurb does not name a single character, while Edward’s only names one.

This is not the case for romance, however, in which both the female and male leads need to be named in the book description. Or a number of sub-genres of crime and thriller, which often give substantial weight to the personal problems of the main characters (especially in series novels), above and beyond the crimes to be solved.

In order to get around all of the Fifty Shades of Gray knockoffs, I went to the romance sub-category of Regency Romance for my sample romance description. Here is the blurb for the #1 bestseller, the winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in Romance for 2014, The Bluestocking and the Rake by Norma Darcy:

The Earl of Marcham has decided to put the excesses of his colorful youth firmly behind him so that he may find a wife and beget himself an heir. But a straitlaced spinster may stand in his way after she releases a morality pamphlet exposing some of his most private misdemeanors. Determined to have his revenge and teach her a much-needed lesson, the earl decides that his best course of action is to seduce her…

Miss Georgiana Blakelow has long given up the hope of marriage. Instead, she’s resigned to serving as governess to her siblings and saving the family estate from ruin. She might succeed, if only the wretch of an earl who won the estate at the gaming table would be reasonable.

As the sparks fly, and as Lord Marcham finds himself unexpectedly attracted to Miss Blakelow, she becomes even more determined to keep him at a safe distance. The closer he gets, the more likely he is to discover that his bluestocking isn’t all that she seems.

This blurb provides much more detail than the descriptions of the fantasy books given above, and names both the hero and the heroine. Several books I clicked on in this category use the same format: a paragraph for each of the love interests, detailing the conflict they will have to overcome to achieve the HEA.

As a final example of blurbs from successful books, here is the description from the #1 seller in techno-thrillers, Departure by A.G. Riddle, also indie:

Flight 305 took off in 2014…
But it crashed in a world very different from our own…

With time running out, five strangers must unravel why they were taken…
And how to get home.

Once again, no names, but in “from the back cover” the five international main characters are described in more detail, all introduced with significant goals to increase potential conflict.

What does that tell you about how to write your blurb?

These blurbs from successful books are all very different, and with the exception of romance, none of them is very good at the “character in a place with a problem” formula. The one thing they have in common is that they all emphasize some kind of dilemma — and do their best to arouse the reader’s curiosity.

So if you were hoping this post would give you a perfect recipe for writing your blurb, I’m afraid I will have to disappoint you. As you can see from the examples I provided above, book descriptions vary wildly from genre to genre. In my opinion, the best way to write a blurb is to go to the sub-genre you intend to conquer, copy a number of blurbs that you found particularly effective into a file, take them apart, and then try to describe your own book in the same way. It involves a certain amount of work, but given how high the book description scores in the poll I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s probably time well-invested.

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.

First quarter goals for 2015

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has started it off better than me — I’ve been sick with a very irritating head cold. It seems to be slowly letting up now, though. I certainly hope so. I find it very hard to concentrate when my head is full of gunk.

Anyway, on to the first order of the year — stating my goals for this round! A number I will have to carry over from last year, but I did make a big dent in my publishing goals in the last days of 2014: I got Mars: A Traveler’s Guide, and Yseult, Part III: Two Men and a Woman published!

Mars

Yseult Part III

(BTW, the Mars story is free everywhere but on Amazon — I still have to get it price-matched.)

On to my updated goals!

Writing:

– Write an average of 4000 words a week.

– Finish Facets of Glass

– Write 5 new short stories

Blog:

– Write a report of the Villa Diodati workshop (finally!)

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

– Update my book page (LONG overdue!)

Writing business:

– Write New Year newsletter for my subscribers

– Schedule upcoming promotions for my books

– List books with Babelcube & Noisetrade

– Publish last episode of Yseult

– Publish “The Shadow Artist” as ebook

– Publish Chameleon in a Mirror to Createspace

– Find reviewers for CIAM and Island of Glass

I hope everyone who reads this had a good time bringing in the new year and it turns out to be a very successful 2015 for all of you!

“Yseult, Part I: Two Women” now finally free on Amazon

As I mentioned a while back, in September I embarked on an experiment: splitting my almost 200,000 word monster book Yseult into episodes and making the first one free.

The problem was, Amazon wasn’t cooperating. The book was free on iTunes, B&N, Google Play, you name it — but no matter how many times I clicked on “tell us about a lower price” and how many people I asked to tattle on me, the price refused to budge, sitting there stubbornly at 99c. I published the first two episodes within days of each other, but when I had so much trouble making the first book free, I didn’t bother putting together the last two.

Yesterday, I finally got fed up at how long it was taking for Amazon to price match, and I wrote them directly.

And lo and behold, it worked!

I don’t know if it is also free in other countries or only in the US (my experience has been that it takes much longer for other Amazon stores to catch up). But at least if you’re in the US, and you have not yet read my (first) doorstopper, you can now get Part I for free. Here the details:

Yseult, Part I

Yseult, Part I: Two Women

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. New ways and a new religion are coming to their land, and despite all their magic, they may be powerless to stop it.

“Yseult: Two Women” is the first of four parts from the bestselling historical fantasy novel “Yseult: A Tale of love in the Age of King Arthur,” a retelling of the tragic love story of Tristan and Yseult. Yseult is a princess of Ireland, a land on the fringes of Europe, a land that had never been conquered by Rome. What would her life have been like in that pagan land before the advent of Christianity?

This book is a re-imagining of Yseult’s youth, never part of the legends — until now.

BTW, even if you already have read the complete novel, you’ll be doing me a favor if you download anyway. It will help the book rank higher. 🙂