Category Archives: Marketing

London Author Fair at Foyles & Indie Recon

In the Author Lounge at London Book Fair I kept my mouth shut (for once) while being told that indie authors need to a)stop being so arrogant and b) indie book covers aren’t nearly as professional as properly published books.

Publishing still seems like a dinosaur profession to me. It’s so different from the tv and film world from which I hail. There, independents are admired as mavericks,risk takers, who challenge the status quo. Yet indie authors are regarded with suspicion (still) by the publishing industry.

So it was a great relief then to go to Indie Recon at Foyles on Friday and listen to the stars of the indie publishing world – CJ Lyons, Nick Stephenson, Rachel Abbott, JF Penn and Steena Holmes tell us that all that matters is your reader.

At the Author Fair (organised by author collective Triskele)

Lambert Nagle Book Signing @ Foyles

Lambert Nagle Book Signing @ Foyles

where we members of ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) got the chance to sell our books to the public, I came away from there determined to make a go of getting the print copy of Revolution Earth into bookshops and libraries.

Going Free on Amazon – with Zero Marketing

Here are the results of my little experiment for Revolution Earth:

Zero Marketing Day Results
Yesterday I conducted a little experiment. I’m running a BookBub ad today(UK only)and on Friday December 5th one in the US with Kindle Books & Tips. Because the BookBub rules state that your book has to be discounted at 12.00am PST (Pacific Standard Time)on the day of your promotion I decided to make it free a day earlier. It’s as well I did as in fact Amazon didn’t set it at free until an hour later – 0100 PST (0900 GMT).

I decided to see if I could get any downloads with no marketing from me just to see what happened.

266 downloads Amazon US,
17 Amazon UK,
4 Canada,
2 India.

None in Australia but that could have been because of the time difference as the promo starts at 12.00am PST (Pacific Standard Time) (8.00am UK time) and the evening by then in NZ and Australia.

What does this prove about marketing? Dunno. Maybe we just got lucky. Or it proves that there’s still an appetite for free books out there.

But one thing’s for sure, the Amazon algorithm doesn’t discriminate so for one heady moment a novel about crazy Kiwi eco-warriors who want to blow up an oil refinery in Australia was at number 1 Free in Political thrillers on the US Amazon site.

Whether you love or loathe Amazon, what it does do is give writers from other countries other than the US (to misquote former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd who seemed to have made up this expression) a ‘fair suck of the sauce bottle.’Screenshot 2014-12-02 07.33.57

So What if it’s a Three Star Review?

Readers’ Favourite is a US site. I can tell that the reviewer has read the story thoroughly. And I’ll fully admit that Fractured is short – (it is a short story after all…). In short, we’re grateful that the reviewer took the time to review….

Reviewed By Heather Osborne for Readers’ Favorite

I chose your prequel short story “Fractured” to review on behalf of Readers’ Favorite. Let me start by saying that I understand this is meant to set up your novel “Revolution Earth” and I have taken that into consideration while writing this review. Upon beginning my read, I found myself confused when it came to some of the terminology. I would have liked to see you define terms that may not be familiar to every reader, such as “fracking.” I had to go to my dictionary to figure out what the term meant. I also felt thrown into a story that I knew very little about. I could not relate to either Jonie or Cara because I did not know enough about them in regards to what role they might play in the subsequent novel.

I believe that in a prequel, you should set the stage for the novel. I did not feel that this short story made me want to find out more or read the novel. As a reader, I felt a bit dissatisfied with the story. What I would have liked was more description, a better understanding of Jonie and Cara’s relationship, and what Tariq’s involvement was in the fracking industry as a simple courier company owner. Overall, I think the story needs a bit of work before it can be adequately called a prequel. I hope you will take my criticisms constructively and perhaps look at making some changes so the story is more palatable to the reader.
Awarded Three stars

I May Not Know Much About Marketing But I Know Someone Who Does 2

A big welcome to guest blogger, Kathryn Dionne, this week. Kathryn is author of The Eleventh Hour Trilogy.ImageImageImage

Marketing Your Book

The 90/10 Rule. . .

By Kathryn Dionne

In days past, writers wrote.  When they had a finished product, they searched out agents and publishing houses that would take their “baby” off their hands, nurture it to its full potential, and give it legs long enough to cover the globe.  If the writer was fortunate enough to find such a person who believed in their talent, shared their enthusiasm,  and was willing to promote them, then the writer became free to focus solely on doing what she does best; write!

Oh, how times have changed!

A new breed of writer has emerged on to the scene, creating a worldwide industry; The Indie writer.  These independent authors who have chosen to forego the daunting task of finding an agent and going it alone are discovering that it’s not enough to simply write a great book. They have to know how to market it.  They have to get their book into the hands of the public and make them want to read it.  

But how do we do that?

As an indie author myself, I have learned to follow the 90/10 rule; 10 percent writing, but 90 percent marketing.  I’m not trying to make an assumption, but I’ve discovered that most people either have a knack for writing or a knack for marketing. Rarely do they possess both.  But if you’re going to be an Indie author you have to be great at both.  When I first published The Eleventh Hour trilogy, it was difficult for me to praise my own books because I thought it made me sound too egotistical.  So I didn’t market them or tell people about them. I just left their fate to chance. Then one day a friend said to me, “You must not like your books very much.”

His statement took me by surprise.  Why would he think that?  He knew how hard I worked to develop the story and the characters.  He was privy to the hours and hours and hours of the endless research I did to make the story real and believable.  So how could he say that? I became indignant and said, “I love my books. They tell a great story.  And I am very proud of them!”

“Then tell people about them,” he said to me. “Don’t cheat them out of an opportunity to feel the same way about them that you do.”

Wow, I hadn’t thought of it in those terms.  But he was right. If I didn’t make the effort to promote them, then why should anyone make the effort to read them?

So what could I do in order to market my books effectively?  I needed to:

1. Change my mindset.  I needed to treat my writing as if it were a business rather than a hobby.  This started my mind thinking in a different direction. Once I accepted that my marketing efforts were an integral part of my writing process, I began to allocate a certain amount of time every day to each part of the process. I found that I liked to do part of my marketing in the morning before I started to write and then a little more in the evening before I went to bed.   I learned to apply the 90/10 rule in a way that was comfortable for me and befitting my lifestyle so as to ensure its longevity. If it worked for me, then I’d be able to work it.

2. Make my books easy to find. Thanks to the Internet and places like Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and a whole host of other websites dedicated to providing a platform for authors and their books, I had an unlimited audience.  But those people couldn’t buy my books if they didn’t know about them.  So I put them everywhere I could. Redundancy turned out to be key in getting my books noticed. I had some books printed solely for the purpose of giving them away.  I donated them to my local libraries, senior and rec centers, and anywhere else where people gathered.  It turns out people love supporting their local authors.

3. Make my efforts fun. I knew that if I didn’t make these marketing efforts enjoyable, then the chances of me continuing them would be nil. One of the most fun and rewarding ways of getting my books recognized has been by doing blog tours.  This has allowed me to virtually travel the globe, stopping at websites around the world to do interviews, guest posts, pod casts and radio shows without ever leaving my office.  In putting together this tour, I discovered so many amazing sites that catered to indie authors by giving them a place to showcase their works. Most of the sites, like Lambert Nagle, are run by authors themselves who have graciously opened up their website in an effort to help promote fellow writers.  Doing a blog tour not only allowed me to tap in to their followers, but it gave me the opportunity to share my viewership with them.  Authors helping authors!

We writers are part of one big family that stretches across the globe. The written word is in our blood, and the need to tell a story is in our hearts.  But unless we learn the language of marketing, our voices will remain silent and our stories untold.  Don’t let your works die out before they’ve even had a chance to live!

About the Author

Kathryn Dionne lives in Southern California with her husband, Jeff and their two Shar Peis Bogey and Gracie.

From an early age, Kathryn’s love of treasure hunting sparked an interest in archaelogy. As an amateur archaelogist, she’s been fortunate enough to uncover some unique artifacts in different parts of the globe. But she’s still searching for that very special scroll.

In addition to writing, she manages their five acre property and a grove of Italian olive trees. Jeff has lovingly named the business, Saint Kathryn’s Olive Oil.

In her spare time she makes cookie jars and throws pottery in her studio. She creates mosaics from discarded objects and sells them as Found Art.

She is currently writing a new series called, Chasing Time, which she hopes to have published some time in 2013.

Kindle Singles: Short Formats on Amazon

 

When I first heard the name Kindle Singles, I thought that it was Amazon’s foray into the dating business – a place, perhaps where bookish nerds, fed up with just their e-readers for company, could hook up. 

 

But I am being flippant here, and Kindle Singles isn’t merely a lonely hearts club, but a far more serious initiative, where anyone can submit original, quality work of a length of 5000 to 30,000 words. Amazon has spotted a gap in the market as these word lengths fit somewhere between the space limitations for magazines and journals and the longer format of print books.  For the few remaining outlets that still exist for the print publication of short stories, for example, you still have to write to a word length.  But because of space constraints the limit even for literary fiction is 5000 words.  But if you want to write a longer piece you really didn’t have anywhere to send it to – until now.

 

And of course, many of the writing competitions or journals that still publish short stories want either chick lit and women’s fiction or literary fiction.  If your work doesn’t fit into either of these categories then your options were limited.  

 

Kindle Singles is work that is commissioned and has to, therefore, go through a selection process.  You can submit a written pitch, a manuscript, as well as a recent self-published ebook, provided that you have published via their Kindle Direct Publishing platform.  This can be fiction, essays, memoirs or personal narratives.  At the time of writing the genres that Amazon were not accepting are children’s books, how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books and travel guides. 

 

So to all of you writers out there, who may have shorter pieces of writing languishing about, all dressed up with nowhere to publish them, why not give Kindle Singles a shot?

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000700491

 

 

 

 

 

Is this the end for KDP Select Free?

 

The days of the indiscriminate downloading of free KDP Select books, if my recent promotion is anything to go by, seems to be well and truly over.  KDP Select is now 18 months old (and that’s a long time in this ever-changing digital world) and the novelty factor for readers has worn off. Of course, that’s had an impact on writers, as Select was pitched to us as a product designed to help us sell more books and become visible on Amazon. While Select was new it worked brilliantly, for some writers, at least, particularly those with a backlist, who reported not just downloads in the thousands but an important spike in sales afterwards.

 

But last year Amazon made some changes to its Amazon Associates program, which meant that Associates could no longer promote free books in quite the same way. And now it seems, even the most successful indie authors are feeling the effect of the changes Amazon made, as writers are reporting a downturn in downloads and subsequent sales.  To test out this theory, I went free, choosing Wednesday to Friday 24th-26th July, just before the summer holidays in the UK.

 

Because Revolution Earth isn’t mass market fiction that appeals to BookBub’s mainstream US readership, I knew that I would have to work extra hard to find readers, so for $40 I paid for eBookbooster to push the book to their 20 plus promotion sites. The sites that did feature Revolution Earth were: Awesome Gang, Author Marketing Club, Book Goodies, EBook Lister, eReader Perks, Free Book Dude, Frugal Freebies, Indie Book Bargains (UK), Indie Book of the Day, It’s Write Now, One Hundred Free Books, Pin Your Book and Sweeties Picks.

 

I had contacted Indie Book Bargains (UK) prior to the promotion, after a tip-off from a fellow indie author, as I was keen to recruit more UK readers. I also let readers on the UK Kindle Users Forum know as well as at Amazon Germany, as New Zealand is a popular destination for German travellers. If you have a book that might appeal to German readers here’s the link: www.amazon.de/forum/englischebücher­ on the thread: We Can Get a Book for Free?

 

Despite this extra help, we had a big drop in downloads in the US, where we managed only 676, when the three day promotion held on 31st August 2012, yielded 2842. And in Germany, when last time round we had 134, this time it was only 20. Of course, if we’d been picked up by one of the big freebie sites such as Pixel of Inx, the results might have been different but as they only feature a handful of freebies every day (as do BookBub), our results, I think, represent the reality of Select for the majority of writers. The power of these sites is enough to propel you into the top 100 in free Kindle books. Getting into the top 100 free list is crucial for visibility. The highest ranking we managed was #589 in the US on the 25th July and #577 in the UK free list. 

 

This doesn’t make me despondent because I never believed the hype around Select in the first place. I have had similar ups and downs in my writing career and this is merely one in a long line of many.  I thought I had it made back in 2006, when I got a book deal for two non-fiction travel and lifestyle titles, which I had high hopes of updating every couple of years.  But two major events completely out of my control stopped all that: My publisher retired and sold his company in the same year that the books were published. And I only found out I’d been dropped as an author when my bio no longer appeared on my new publisher’s website. The second reason was, ironically the digital book revolution, which I’m now a part of, affecting the travel and lifestyle market. Suddenly travellers no longer wanted to lug around heavy guidebooks any more and if I ever do republish, (as I have got my rights back), it will be as an app.

 

So you see, I never had unrealistic expectations or get too excited about how much money I would make from Select in the short term. What benefits there are to writers like me, who haven’t had any increased sales as a result of their recent promotions, to stay in Select remains unclear, unless it is to recruit more readers, who might just leave reviews?  I’m keen to hear your opinions and what you think indies should be doing to promote their work, so do let me know what you think.