Preparing for Kindle Scout (Again!)

Once again, I’m submitting a novel to Kindle Scout. In October I had submitted Love, Lies & Clones to the program. I had no idea what I was doing. Now, I thought I’d try again…this time with a little more thought to the process. (My goal is to get it submitted by February 1st)

What is Kindle Scout? It’s Amazon’s publishing platform, different than self-publishing, where Kindle Press is your publisher. Because of this, you earn less royalties than self-publishing (still more than traditional publishing), but Amazon does the marketing for you. Here’s a great blog post about the topic from Kindle Scout Winner, S.G. Basu.

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For me, it’s really not about winning a publishing contract. In fact, I have mixed feelings about that in general. (For Love, Lies & Clones, I remember having a small panic attack that I’d give up control of the manuscript if I won.) I’m doing this for three primary reasons:

  1. It gives me a deadline. Otherwise, I’d nitpick and rearrange the novel forever. I want to move on!
  2. I’m still struggling on my cover choice. Kindle Scout gives me an opportunity to test one.
  3. It’s a little bit of free advertising/marketing.

When readers peruse the Kindle Scout website, they see very little of your novel, only the cover, title, and tagline. Because of this, these three items need to shineYour goal is to have them click into your novel to read more…and hopefully, nominate you. (The jury is still out if Amazon actually uses this data in their decision, but I’m running this for other reason, I want to see if my book package is tight enough for publication.)

Cover: I mentioned how I struggled on this. I had it down to two choices and actually did a Facebook A/B testing ad (both ended up nearly equal) then I polled my Facebook friends/followers for their opinion. I had almost unanimous feedback for the red one. WHICH GOES AGAINST EVERYTHING I’VE READ ABOUT COVER CREATION! You want to look like other covers in the genre. Because I’m taking a chance with the cover, Kindle Scout is a perfect test run before publishing.
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Title: I ALWAYS struggle with titles. Without a doubt, a title is one of the key features that sells a book (or gets nominations in the case of Kindle Scout.) The novel I’m submitting has been called BLOOD & HOLY WATER ever since I created the idea 12+ years ago. I toyed with some new title ideas, something more catchy, but couldn’t find “the one.” Well, I’m keeping my original title. (Oh, and ampersands (&) don’t show up right on Kindle Scout emails, so my advice is to spell out the word “and” instead of abbreviating. It’s better than the gobbly-gook on the KS emails.)

Log line: The maximum length of this hook is only 45 characters. Yeah, this was nearly impossible. I ended up coming up with four ideas and conducting a Facebook survey about it. The goal is to grab your reader’s attention. (I’m still not sure what log line I’m using. Voting is still open and I have until Tuesday to decide. If you want to help, you can VOTE HERE.facebook-survey-png

The combo of cover, title, and tagline is all you have to attract the reader to click your book to read more. If these are not strong, your campaign will probably not succeed.

Now that you have your potential reader’s attention, you need to get their vote. To capture this, there are two key parts: book description and excerpt. (And the book description needs to be good for them to read on to the excerpt.)

Book description: Your novel wrapped up in a tidy, 500 character blurb. (Yeah, CHARACTERS, not words. And that includes spaces!) The worst part is you can’t use the “enter” key. It all shows up in a big chunk of text. Here’s what I’m going with, I don’t know if it’s the best, but it’s what I can do with such limited space. My goal was to show the two main character’s personalities here.

Ava’s sick of mundane angel duties. She wants a promotion to finally earn her wings. A promotion takes more than hard work, it takes a miracle–literally. Unfortunately, her miracle’s impossible, as it involves a vampire. Fin has no time for frivolous gestures. He’s too busy avoiding his own kind to care what a naïve angel wants. But when the other vampires uncover his deepest secret, threatening what he cherishes most, nothing can help him except a miracle. Too bad he chased the angel away.

Book excerpt: This comes from your uploaded document. Yup, you need to upload your entire novel here. Kindle Scout says it should be complete, free of errors, and professionally edited. Okay. I cheat a little. I understand that if KS selects you, you have a few weeks to resubmit a beautified document to them. Because of this, I submit to Kindle Scout at the same time that I turn my manuscript over to my editor. I figure, my document is pretty good already, I’ve had ten (or more) beta readers that have nitpicked the grammar, etc. Now, this may count against me for the KS campaign, so I don’t advise to it, but it’s a decision I make…well…because I’m a little impatient.

Other things to consider:

Book Categories: Where does your book fit? Tip: If it fits in more than one category, PICK it! You’ll get more exposure that way. Mine is urban fantasy with a touch of paranormal romance and suspense, so I picked all three categories. The book will show up in three different carousels then, hopefully capturing more reader attention.

Author Bio: I had read somewhere your bio should be memorable. I lightened mine up since last time and went with this. Hopefully, it creates an impression. Yeah, 500 CHARACTER limit here too. Maybe I should have went shorter… Oh well.

Joynell Schultz was raised at a zoo (yea, bring on the jokes) which gave her a love of animals. She spends her days working as a veterinary pharmacist & spends her nights (cough, cough—very early mornings) creating imaginary worlds writing speculative fiction. When she’s not trying to put food on the table (take-out, of course) for her husband & two children (& keeping it away from her sneaky Great Dane), she spends her time reading, writing, enjoying the outdoors, & planning her next vacation.

Author Questions: There is a whole slew of questions you can answer about yourself, and your book. I don’t think that they necessarily make any difference in the campaign outcome, but I figured, why not answer some.

Thank you note: Oh, with my first campaign, I completely missed the boat on this. I filled it out very politely, but everyone does that. This time, I’m making it pop. Don’t start with “thank you” everyone says those two words. I’m keeping it short and not including a pile of links, since those go out with the email anyway.

Holy crap! I’m thrilled you voted for me. I can’t express my gratitude for your support. I’d LOVE to have your continued support by joining my newsletter list. It’s simple, just visit this website: http://eepurl.com/ccWKDn. Via my newsletter, I’ll make sure to let you know when BLOOD & HOLY WATER is available on Amazon.com.

Author photo: Lastly, you upload an author picture. Yikes. I’m sure there is psychology behind picking a photo, but I HATE photos. I didn’t spend much time on this and used the photo I currently have everywhere. Someday, I’ll get a better one…like when I lose 30 pounds. Ha Ha. Like that’ll happen.

So… How does this all come together.

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(But keep in mind that the circled parts are all the potential readers will see UNLESS they click your cover.)

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Because your novel will show up like this on the Kindle Scout home page:

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Once you hit submit, this isn’t over. There’s still the question of promoting your novel, but I’ll save that blog post for another day.

If you’d like to read more, Lincoln Cole, a Kindle Scout winner, has a fantastic reference book. It’s called “Kindle Scout Guide: How to Run a Hot & Trending Campaign and Improve Your Odds of Getting Picked” This is THE book to get to walk you through your campaign, from preparation, to marketing, to what happens next.

1000 True Fans – Mission 4: Platform

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Wow. Thanks for sticking with me for an entire month as I attempt to grow my mailing list this year. If you would like to get caught up on previous weeks, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

Review of Past Week (Mission 3: Bribery!): Success. (Notice, no exclamation point here.)

Last week, I put together a collection of 3 short stories to give away as an “ethical” bribe to join my mailing list.Taking this little book I created, I updated all my social media outlets letting everyone know that if they joined my mailing list, they’ll receive this short story collection.  Hey, look at what I even did to my Facebook page and how I changed my newsletter subscription screen (small successes, right?):

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Also, I may have overloaded twitter with posts. (I learned how to use a tweet scheduler this week. It was kinda fun. Even with 2000+ twitter followers, nobody sees these things, but that’s a topic for another mission.)

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Overall, I don’t think many of these tactics worked. Maybe my “ethical” bribe wasn’t interesting…or everyone is giving something away free these days. Oh well. What I’m calling a success is having a gift to share when “true” fans who do sign up. That’s my goal anyway, to make and keep followers.

How did this week pan out?

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Subscriptions: 31 fans / 1000 true fans (I’m up 5 people this week. Perhaps spill over from last week or maybe from discovering my “platform.” (More of that below.)

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This Weeks Mission: What’s Your Platform? Honestly, it wasn’t until this past week that I even thought about what my platform was, or even how a platform applied to an author…or a blogger. (Hey, I didn’t even consider myself a blogger until last week!) Here’s my simplified definition:

Author/Blogger Platform: Your personality trait that draws in “fans.” (Ha ha. Did you like how I slipped that word in?)

I thought it would be my writing. When I started this blog a year ago, I was going to use it to showcase my stories. I started with some flash fiction, then switched to sharing my journey. Why did I switch? Because I got more interest in (cheers for?) my struggle to be a writer than I did with what I created. PLUS, I LOVE DOING IT! (Which now makes me think the “freebie” I created last week was the wrong one. If I had thought about my “platform” then, I would have spent some time creating some little booklet elaborating on some of the more popular blog posts.)

According to Jeff Goins at www.goinswriter.com, there are five different platforms: The Journalist, The Prophet, The Artist, The Professor, and The Star. Check out the details here: The 5 Types of Marketing Platforms and figure out which one you are. In his webinar, he challenges you to find which one is your primary platform and stick to it for 30 days, aligning your blog posts, social media, emails, etc. with this theme.

So, who am I? The professor. I’ve always been the “trainer” and “teacher” at work and in life, having a thirst for knowledge. I’m an over-researcher. (Okay, maybe I’m a little bit of “The Star” too, though I don’t like that title. I do enjoy sharing my stories.)

What does this all mean? Go back up to the definition: Your personality trait that draws in “fans.” So, I’m a professor. It’s who I naturally am. I shouldn’t try to change and be the artist, since my “fans” are here for my experiences. In addition to this, Forbes says, your platform is a combination of personality, authenticity, and expertise.

Now, I’m looking to creating my first newsletter. Knowing my platform helps me determine what content / theme to put in that document. A rant on Facebook censorship probably won’t be my reader’s favorite.

Then, moving on to the future of this blog post series (social media), knowing your platform will help develop your social media presence. What do you post on Facebook? How do you interact on Twitter? Reach to your platform for ideas.

Where do we go from here? How does this apply to “1000 True Fans?” Keeping my platform in mind, here’s some ideas:

  1. Guest Blogging: Start connecting with other bloggers who align with your platform. Get to know them. Offer a guest post, if they’re looking. The goal is that some of their audience will be interested in what you have to say.
  2. Networking: Help people by doing favors. Don’t ask, “How can I help,” but rather, find what they need and make a specific offer. Start connecting with like-minded people through meaningful interactions.
  3. Newsletter: Another thing I need to develop is WHAT my newsletter/email persona is. I’ll be blogging about this in the near future.
  4. Blog Clean Up: Now that I know my platform, I’m going to reorganize my blog around it. Highlighting those things that make me…well…me.

Learn More: You can find out more about platforms here:

Next Week: Social media optimization, here I come!

(Note: The first three weeks of this series, I had been loosely following the program outlined in Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing 101’s Webinar: “30 Days to 100 Fans: Mailing Lists 101.” I was supposed to “Experiment with Paid Traffic” somewhere in that 30 days. Utilizing Facebook ads and do free book promotions through sites like Bookbub, Freebooksy, and Booksends. I decided against this at this time. I may revisit it later, but don’t feel I have enough of a platform to take this step.)

I’d love to know. What’s your platform?

Writing Tip: Filtering Filter Words

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As I’m working through the last edits for BLOOD & HOLY WATER, I am feverishly cutting out filter words. This is an alternating POV novel (3rd person) and my filter words are OUT OF CONTROL!

When I learned about these little attention detractors this past fall, it opened my eyes. Perhaps other (new-ish) writers don’t know about them either? Knowledge is half the battle, right? In this blog, I’m sharing a list of them, and my super-special trick to help remove them from my writing.

Definition of a filter word (per Pub(lishing) Crawl): “Filters are words or phrases you tack onto the start of a sentence that show the world as it is filtered through the main character’s eyes.”

Why eliminate them?

  • They make your writing less direct.
  • They separate the reader from the action and emotion.

Here’s my master list of filter words I try not to use when writing:

  • See / saw
  • Hear / heard
  • Think / thought
  • Touch / touched
  • Wonder / wondered
  • Seem / seemed
  • Decide / decided
  • Know / knew
  • Feel / felt
  • Look / looked
  • Notice / noticed
  • Realize / realized
  • Watch / watched
  • Sound
  • Can / could
  • To be able to
  • Note / noted
  • experience / experienced
  • remember / remembered

Here’s an example of some changes I recently made:

  • Before: He wondered where Ava had gone.
  • After: Where did Ava go?
  • Before: She felt the tingle of electricity flow up her arm.
  • After: Electricity flowed up her arm.
  • Before: He watched her dance in the rain.
  • After: She danced in the rain.

See how the changes make the reader closer to the action; almost a part of it.

Sometimes, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate a filter word, and I end up leaving them in.

So, as I become a more “experienced” writer, I’m more aware of these and write less and less of them into my story, but many times, I get captivated by my characters and end up writing a pile of filter words. When you have a novel-length manuscript, removing them can be a daunting task.

Here’s my super-special trick: I don’t worry abut them until the end—removal of filter words is on my final editing checklist. (Along with removal of my personal list of overused words including: really, very, that, just, then, totally, completely, back, finally, little, definitely, certainly, probably, start, begin, began, begun, rather, quite, somewhat, somehow, smile, said, breathe breath, inhale, exhale, shrug, nod, reach.)

This trick only works in Microsoft Word, but I’m sure other programs have something similar.

  • Open your document.
  • Select what color you’d like your filter words changed to using the “Text Highlight Color” button on the “Home” tab.
  • Still on the “Home” tab, click “Replace”
  • In the “Find what:” box, type your first filter word. For example: Hear
  • In the “Replace with:” box, type in the same exact word. For example: Hear
  • Click “More” then “Format” then “Highlight.”
  • Click “Replace All”
  • And there you go. Now when you do your final read through, the highlighted words will remind you they need attention. Cut them if possible.
  • When you’re all done, select your entire document and remove the highlighting.

Setting this up is a little time consuming, but worth it in the long run. Keep in mind, that you SHOULD NOT highlight words within words. Example: “Hear” will highlight all “Hear” including the “Hear” part of “Heard”, so you don’t have to go back and do “Heard”.

Wow. Now get back to editing. 🙂

As always, thanks for reading.

–Joy

Read more? Check out these sites:

What are your thoughts on filter words? How do you keep them out of your writing?

 

 

Quick Escape – FREE Fantasy Short Story Collection

I (finally) put together a collection of short stories that I want to give away free as a thank you for reading my blog. If you’re interested, they’re available exclusively through this link or by clicking the book title below. You can download them for Kindle, EPUB readers, or PDF format.


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Enjoy a taste of another world with these three fantasy stories. 

  • Bitten: A desperate mother struggles to protect her son.
  • The Fairy Flu:A sick fairy confronts a childhood rival who threatens the kingdom.
  • The Enchanted Apothecary: A grieving shopkeeper becomes suspicious of a mysterious man who keeps visiting her apothecary shop.

(Yes, this was COMPLETELY a shameless plug to grow my newsletter list. Please forgive me. If I get annoying, please tell me. To learn more about my quest for 2017 to find “true” fans, click HERE.)

1000 True Fans – Mission 3: Bribery!

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It’s week three already. For the previous two posts in this series, see WEEK 1 or WEEK 2.

Review of Past Week (Social Media): Success!

In my quest to achieve 1000 True Fans, this week was easy. Ask people to join my mailing list, using my active social media accounts. I posted on twitter a few times (no success, like always for me, even with a pinned tweet) and then on Facebook. Facebook’s a little tricky. I first posted on my Author Page and obtained a handful of signups. (I do have that button activated “Sign Up” right on top, but nobody clicks it.)

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Also, if/when somebody clicks my header, I wrote a comment with the newsletter sign up link. (I have the following text: Click Here to Sign Up for an AWESOME Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ccWKDn)

The problem with the author page is not everyone that likes it, see’s my posts. So, I then posted to my personal page and received some more subscribers. Then there is this blog. A big THANK YOU to those who signed up. I truly appreciate it.

I updated the signature in my email to say the following: (I’ve been wanting to do this a long time already)

I think this already got me one sign up.

I post on KBoards and I updated my signature to have an “newsletter signup link.” I don’t think this has done much yet, but I haven’t been very active this week.

All in all, not only did these changes obtain some new subscribers, but they were all really good changes that I wanted to make.

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Subscriptions: 26 fans / 1000 true fans (I’m up 15 people. Yay! Another win form me—doubling my subscriptions for the second week in a row.)

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This Weeks Mission: Bribery! Last week, I hinted that we needed to create some type of freebie we can giveaway to attract subscribers (or at least to say, “thank you” to those who have signed up.) I’ve been wanting to get a small collection of my short stories together anyway…so, this challenge gave me the motivation I needed. I spent my entire evening last night editing the three stories I selected, creating the cover design, uploading the product to instafreebies, and figuring out a way to give the story away without having to pay for the mailchimp integration.

Whola! Here’s my giveaway available exclusively to mailing list subscribers:

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Enjoy a taste of another world with these three fantasy stories.

  • Bitten: A desperate mother struggles to protect her son.
  • The Fairy Flu: A sick fairy confronts a childhood rival who threatens the kingdom.
  • The Enchanted Apothecary: A grieving shopkeeper becomes suspicious of a mysterious man who keeps visiting her apothecary shop.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you’re a loyal blog follower of mine, you’ll realize I have “The Fairy Flu” and “The Enchanted Apothecary” available for free already—no signup needed. Oh well. Bitten is never been published though, and perhaps that’ll be a little incentive. All in all, it’s a short collection, totaling only 5000 words.

The other thing I did was create two giveaways showcasing the first three chapters of my unpublished novel, Blood & Holy Water. In the beginning and the end of the sample, it urges the reader to sign up for the mailing list if they want to be on top of the rest of the novel being released. (As an added bonus, I uploaded it twice, once with each of my covers, to see which one draws more interest since I’m still deciding between them. Both covers are “clickable” if you want to be taken over to the instafreebies site.)

 blood-2-copy copy-of-blood-copyBlood & Holy Water

Ava’s sick of mundane angel duties. She wants a promotion to finally earn her wings. A promotion takes more than hard work, it takes a miracle – literally. Unfortunately, her miracle’s impossible, as it involves a vampire.

Fin doesn’t deserve a miracle and can’t be bothered helping a naïve angel. He’s busy keeping the Blood Board off his back. For years he’s avoided his own kind, but now his secret has surfaced. Nothing can help him except a miracle. Too bad he scared the angel away.

As a reminder, for the first month of growing my mailing list, I’m loosely following the program outlined in Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing 101’s Webinar: “30 Days to 100 Fans: Mailing Lists 101,” and this concept of “bribing” someone to join my mailing list is a little unsettling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing it anyway, but my goal is really NOT to have a huge mailing list, rather it’s to grow a group of interested readers. I worry, with giving away a freebie, if I’m attracting a “fan” or is someone just downloading the story because it’s free. Will they even read it? Am I wasting my breath? I’m approaching this giveaway more as a “thank you for subscribing” bonus. It probably isn’t as useful of a tool when looked at that way and will probably only have a modest impact on my newsletter subscribers.

Oh, and if you already subscribed, I’ll be sending out the link to my freebie in the first edition of my newsletter, due out in a few weeks.I’m a little nervous on content for that too, and will be blogging about it in the near future.

Now, I just need to go out and promote this freebie. Sigh. What to do.

Promotion Ideas:

  • Pinned Facebook & Twitter Post
  • “Get Free Book” on left side of Facebook home page?
  • Use app called “CoPromote” to spread the word.
  • Sign-up link in the front and back of the novel I have for sale
  • Notify people of the giveaway using the hashtag #instafreebie
  • Spread the message in Facebook groups and other message boards I’m on.
  • Link to it on my blog’s “freebies & publications” page
  • (Warning, I’ll be making a purely marketing blog post this week, promoting this.)
  • Other ideas? Please share them in the comments section.

If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter/mailing list yet, here’s the link. No pressure, but now you can get a FREEBIE with signup. Ha Ha. Bribery. 😉

Are you following this program with me? How did last week go for you?

Any other ideas for promoting?

Lessons Learned; First 30 Days of Self-Publishing

Since deciding to self-publish my novel, Love, Lies & Clones, I scoured the internet and obsessed over every “My First 30 Days of Self-Publishing” post; intrigued by everyone’s experience. All of them were slightly disappointing and had the same theme. How do you find readers?

Well, I thought I’d throw mine out into cyber-space too since today marks the end of my first 30 days.

Firstly, those of you who’ve been following me know my goal with writing is just to have people READ what I’ve wrote (and enjoy it.) Writing is completely a hobby so I’m not trying to make any money doing it, but I did want to share the economics. (Incidentals of writing books, computer, desk, notebooks not included.)

Expenses:

  • Pre-publishing costs: $265 (editing, stock photo for cover, ISBNs)
  • Post-publishing costs: $124 (advertising, print advanced reader copies)
    • Grand total of expenses: $389

Net Income for first 30 days:

  • Ebooks: 63 books
  • Page reads (Kindle Unlimited program): 3824 (equals about 10 books)
  • Paperback sales: 16 (it’s for sale at my parent’s zoo)
    • Total income: $95

WHAT I’VE DONE & LEARNED

Pre-publishing costs:

Editor: I’m still very happy I hired a freelance editor to review my novel before publication. I will be doing this with all my books. At the very least, it saves me some embarrassment.

Cover Creation: I know paying somebody to create a stunning cover would have helped sales, but I’m on the fence if it would have offset my costs. I’m planning on getting a few more books out there, and with book 2 in this series, hiring someone to design an awesome cover for both novels. I did really enjoy the process of creating my own. (I blogged about it here)

ISBN’s: I bought a pack of 10 of them for $25 each—as I’ll be publishing a pile of books. I haven’t seen a benefit of this yet, and probably wouldn’t have needed to purchase these as a new author.

Post-publishing costs:

Advanced Review Copies: Urgh! My big lesson: DON’T SEND OUT PHYSICAL PAPERBACKS TO GET REVIEWS. I sent out 6 of them (clearly letting the reader know they were in exchange for an honest review), costing a total of $67.44. Well, out of these six, only 2 turned into an actual review. From now on, I’ll only send digital copies—plus, I think the natural reviews you receive tend to be more positive, though I don’t have enough of these to confirm this yet.

Advertising: I tried a variety of advertising strategies.

Free Advertising:

  • Free Submission Websites: I submitted to Book Angel, eBook Skill, Pretty Hot, Awesome Gang, Armadillo, Book Bongo, and People Reads. I picked all these because other authors seemed to have some success with them. Well, I’d say they all netted me zero sales. Maybe one sale from People Reads.
  • Critters.org: I belong to this critique forum and they send out a weekly email with manuscripts up for critique. I submitted a “Woo Hoo” that my novel’s published and thanking those who critiqued it. I may have sold 2 copies from this email.
  • Headtalker Campaign: I netted 2-4 sales from this. Considering it had a social reach of over a million people, this is pretty dismal. (Here’s a link to Headtalker)
  • Kindle Scout Email: Kindle Scout let everyone who voted for me know my books was available – this netted 4 sales, though I had my price set higher for a few days here. It could have netted more with a lower price. (Here’s my blog post on Kindle Scout)
  • Cross-Promotion: By far, this was the best thing I did for marketing. I was involved in one the week after Christmas with all many authors involved in t he Kindle Scout campain. I netted 7 sales from that. Then this past week, I was involved in a big 70 author one for speculative fiction – this netted me 12 sales. The best part of both of these? I met some new friends. I found these all through Kboards(Here’s my blog post on cross-promotion)
  • Blogs: I appeared on some blogs as an author spotlight and others with a review of my book. I can’t say if these helped or not. (Minimal impact at best.) I know, my own blog helped. (Here’s one of those blogs)
  • Instafreebies: I have the first six chapters up on Instafreebies with 33 copies downloaded so far. Do they turn into sales? I don’t know. Either way, I’m happy 33 people wanted to read the first six chapters. (Here’s the link) ***Update 1/21/17**** This was changed to the first THREE chapters, because I realized Amazon changed their policy. You used to be able to post 10-20% without being in violation of the KDP Select Contract, now it’s only 10% (or perhaps the 20% had been a type-o on their part at one point.)
  • Social Media: I definitely had a ton of luck with Facebook — especially my own personal page. Twitter has not been effective for me. Twitter seems to be a great spot to connect with readers and other authors, but not to sell your book. Especially a new author like myself. (Note: I’m not talking about their advertising or boosted posts–just the free stuff.) (Facebook and Twitter here)

Paid Advertising:

  • Facebook: I ran a Facebook ad briefly, before it was pulled. (My rant about that is HERE.) It turned out to be quite expensive for what you got out of it. (I’m thinking no sales. Maybe a Kindle Unlimited read. Total cost: 18.41 –I had run three different ads, really experimenting on how the whole thing worked.) I’ve read a lot of success stories, but I think this’ll take some trial and error–if I go down this path again.
  • Paid Websites/Email blasts: BKnights-through Fiverr: $6 gave me 2 sales. Booktastic gave me 2 sales for a $7 ad, eBookHounds for $10 gave me 1 sale. None of them paying for themselves. My book was priced at 99 cents this whole time.
  • Goodreads Giveaway: I listed two paperback copies to giveaway for free. Total cost of the book plus shipping was $16.54. 658 people requested my book, 262 people put it on their “to read” list (along with hundreds of other books already on their lists), but even with all this, I don’t think it netted anyone actually reading my book–yet.
  • Amazon Marketing Serivice Ads: And now, I discovered AMS ads. These take a little bit of work to fine tune a short “hook” to make people click your book and then honing the keywords that trigger your ad on people’s searches. I’m still working on this, but they’ve definitely brought me some sales at a cheap enough cost. I’ve spent a total of about $2 so far (been running since January 1st) and brought in at least 3 sales and some page reads.

Other lessons learned:

Pre-orders: I had mine up for two weeks. I think a week is long enough or a much longer period (months). In my two weeks, I had a bump of people ordering it in the first three days, then nobody for a week, then it picked up the last few days again. Total pre-orders were 19 copies.

Blurb: The book blurb is so important. The cover may draw the reader in, but the blurb is what sells the book. It needs to be punchy and leave the reader wanting more.

Book Pricing: I’m still struggling with this one. I’m currently at 99 cents, but I’m nervously raising my price tomorrow to $2.99. (I expect zero sales for the next 30 days at this price.) I’m not trying to make more money, but have multiple factors contributing to this decision. Urgh, the psychology behind this whole thing makes my head hurt. Love, Lies & Clones had been on pre-order for 99 cents and raised the price at go-live to $2.99, causing me to have zero sales for 3 days. I panicked and lowered it back to 99 cents for the first 30 days.

  • I think some readers may think books priced at 99 cents may be poorly done.
  • I want to try a countdown deal for more exposure and I need to be priced at $2.99 or more for a month to do this.

Things I’m doing with the next novel I’m publishing (Blood & Holy Water):

  1. Continue to pay for an editor. Money well spent.
  2. Make a more genre specific book cover. (Match the top sellers in the genre.) I’m still making it myself as I’m not ready to spend the big money yet.
  3. Pre-order for 1 week only, don’t advertise this to my loyal followers until a few days before – in an effort to raise my rank.
  4. Try Kindle Scout again. I think it was good exposure—especially when my book is sitting with the editor.
  5. The free services for exposure don’t seem to work, so I’m skipping them. Devoting my time to writing and useful marketing.
  6. Cross promotion is awesome. I’ll sign up for as much of this as I can find.
  7. Continue with Amazon advertising (AMS) and fine tuning it. It’s prime real estate exposure. We’ll see how I feel about this when I raise the price of my novel to $2.99.
  8. Price book at 99 cents for the first month—at least until I get more followers.
  9. Hit it big for launch week. Schedule a blast of promos for one week, don’t scatter them. Any ranking you build up, quickly falls between promos.
  10. Digital only advanced reader copies, and these still may not turn into reviews, so don’t count on them.
  11. Write a supurb blurb to hook the reader.
  12. BUILD A MAILING LIST!

But then, my entire experience could be because nobody cares about a clone’s desperate search for her father. There’s a ton of forums and tools out there for writers to try to identify what’s “Hot” and writing to that market. That’s not me though. I’ll keep writing whatever crazy idea springs to mind. Be it clones, vampires & angels, or superhero wives.

Wow, thanks for reading this WAY TOO LONG blog post! Until next time.

–Joy

Feel free to share your thoughts and wisdom in the comments.

 

Need a book? Don’t Miss These Promos

I just wanted to let everyone know of two limited time promotions I’m participating in. It’s a great time to load up your kindle. One focuses on Speculative fiction novels and the other on mysteries/thrillers. (Of course Love, Lies & Clones is in both promotions–see my happy face?)

The first is a speculative fiction (fantasy & science fiction) collection. Over 70 authors are participating in this one and it ends tonight at midnight, SATURDAY 1/14/17, so you’ll need to hurry if you like this genre. One great deal here is the “Name Your Demon” box set that includes 15 fantasy and paranormal romance novels for nearly free. There are a ton of other stand alone novels too. Click the graphic below for more information.

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The second promotion runs through SUNDAY 1/15/17 at midnight. It’s a large collection (40+) of mystery / thriller / suspense novels discounted for 99 cents. Click the graphic below for more information.

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I hope you find your next favorite book 🙂

–Joy