Book Spotlight – RETURN TO ROYALTY by E. Paige Burks

Book Spotlight (3)

Novel: Return to Royalty

Author: E. Paige Burks

Genre: Urban Fantasy / PNR / New Adult

How I found this book: The author of Return to Royalty and I mutually follow each other’s blogs and we both published our Fantasy novels at the same time. It seemed only right to take a look. (Plus, I loved the cover.)

Amazon book description:

RTR

Nyx Estrella is a princess from Gexalatia, a world on the other side of a portal. Unfortunately, she has no idea. Sent to Lucky, Texas, when she was a baby to protect her from the evil King Paraximus, her biggest concerns are grades and seeing her friends. She has no idea that she possesses magical abilities and that her reality is about to become really strange. Jet Lamia is a war prisoner, sent from Gexalatia by the queen, Liana Estrella, to bring Nyx back home to the kingdom of Ymber. The portal only opens on the winter solstice, so Jet finds himself trapped on Earth, trying to blend in. Fortunately, he has help in the form of the queen’s chosen assistant, Seth Alvar. But playing well with others has never been one of Jet’s talents. It is a race against the clock to tell Nyx her true identity and try to train her, while also keeping her alive. Nyx and Jet struggle to defeat the assassins sent to kill them both, while trying not to kill each other. Can this duo put their differences aside and return to Gexalatia?

What’s not in the blurb: I didn’t expect the suspense (maybe even a touch of horror, at times) in this story…both of which are not my usual genre, but I LOVED IT!

As I writer, what I really enjoyed and appreciated: Holy cow did the tension between the character’s get to me. I found myself turning pages to find out how their relationship would grow, taking mental notes how I could use the author’s techniques in my own writing.

Who’d enjoy this book: Lovers of contemporary fantasy who enjoy a little suspense and romance thrown in. This book is listed in the Young Adult category, but I found it more New Adult, appealing to a wider audience.

My overall impression: Once I got into the book, I couldn’t put it down! I seriously loved the characters and can’t wait to read more. Once book two is published, I’ll definitely be getting myself a copy to continue the journey of Nyx and Jet. This book had the right mix of suspense, fantasy, and a little romantic tension. Perfect!

About the author: E. Paige Burks, budding author of The Heart of the Guardian, is a graduate from Texas A&M University with a degree in Agricultural Communication and Journalism. Her book, Return to Royalty, won the 2016 Author U Draft to Dream Award in the Young Adult category and has been nominated for USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards. When she is not writing fantasy and love stories, she enjoys Mexican food, singing out loud, cuddling with her cats, and taking long naps. E. Paige Burks lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, four dogs, three cats, three horses, and a single bird named Ricki.

Where to find this novel:

Other books in the series:

  •  Book 2 of A Gexalatia Tale (Yet to be published.)

My disclosure: I hate star ratings. Honestly, I think these are so subjective and sometimes reflect the reader more than they do the book. Because this is my blog, and I can do anything I want, I’m not using them.

I think ANYBODY who puts the time, effort, and dedication to write and publish an entire novel deserves 5 stars anyway. Also, when I read indie authors, I realize they operate on a shoestring (non-existent) budget and don’t have a team of college educated professionals helping them fine tune their novels.

 

Planning the “PERFECT” Book Launch

My Writing Journey (1)

Is there such thing as a perfect book launch?

I have my new novel, Blood & Holy Water, set to launch this week. I’ve done a pile of reading, listened to as many podcasts and webinars as I could find, and spoke with other indie authors on successful techniques.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, just hitting the “publish” button does not bring in sales for a novel. It takes some work (and, perhaps, some magic.)

I know I don’t have the secret formula here, but here’s how I lined up my release.

Pre-Launch:

  • Built up my email list / mailing list. I began my push in January, with a real focus in February. Now, I’m up to nearly 1500 subscribers. (You can see how I did this in my 1000 “True” Fans Blog Series.) I’ll email this list during my launch and cross my fingers for some interest in Blood & Holy Water.
  • Kindle Scout program. This was a way to extend my reach / distribution list in a different way. I had 1400 people view my campaign page and Amazon will send those that voted for my book a notification that it’s available at launch. I’ve already had eight people sign up for my mailing list due to the campaign. We’ll see if it helps launch day. If not, I may be done with this program.
  • I hosted a few Amazon Giveaways of my last novel. To qualify for the giveaway, you needed to follow my author page. Amazon then sends notification out to my followers when I publish new books. (You can check out how this looks HERE.) (Of note, I think they already sent out notification of the pre-order which returned 3 or 4 sales.) Here’s a post on how to set this up.
  • I started distributing Advanced Reader Copies 6 weeks ago so I’d have some reviews on launch day (social proof). This is working as I have 9 fantastic reviews up on Amazon so far.
  • Published the paperback so I can collect these reviews from my Advanced Readers. (You can’t leave a review on a pre-order.)
  • Since I have a paperback version, I created a Goodreads Giveaway building up Blood & Holy Water’s “to read” list. After publishing Love, Lies & Clones, I said I wouldn’t do this again…but I did with only one copy this time. (HERE‘s that giveaway, if you’d like to see how that looks.)
  • Coordinated my launch schedule — see below — booking places to advertise and coordinating cross-promotion. I understand, the way Amazon’s algorithm works, you want a few days of steady sales for Amazon to notice you. I chose to spread the heart of my my launch over five days.
  • Put my book up on pre-order so I can make sure the blurb, categories, etc are okay. I am not advertising this pre-order because they don’t help you out on Amazon (actually, they can hurt you if they pull away sales from launch day. I did this wrong last time.)
  • Got an Amazon Marketing Service (AMS) ad ready for the new book. It takes time to put in the 1000 keywords.

Launch:

This is what I have planned this week for my launch. I don’t know if it’ll work…I’m pricing the book at 99 cents for most (perhaps all) of April, since I’m a no-name author and am trying to build up ranking. I tried $2.99 with my other book, Love, Lies & Clones for a few days and sales suffered. I know I may be throwing money away doing this, but I’m afraid to go at $2.99. If the novel does well, I might try to vary the pricing on the days I don’t have promos. Not on this list is I’m also running a discount on my other novel, with hopes that maybe there’ll be some cross-promotion between the two.

  • Tuesday 4/4: Launch day! I’m not pushing the book yet. I want to make sure everything looks good before I go that route. I will notify Kindle Scout of the release so they can send out their email to those that nominated me. This is more of an experiment, as I want to see if the Kindle Scout Program brings book sales. (Free, so far.)
  • Wednesday 4/5: Notify my Facebook followers. Get a post ready to boost later this week. Ask for shares to extend my reach. Also, a review forum I belong to, http://www.critters.org, will send out a notification to the other members late this night. Will also use twitter, instagram, and tumblr, mostly to prepare posts for use of co-promote later this week. Alert Reader’s Gazette of Bargain. (Note, all of this is free.)
  • Thursday 4/6: Headtalker campaign (free) and Booksends / eReader IQ ($35). What (Shameless plug: You can support my HeadTalker campaign HERE, if you’d like.)
  • Friday 4/7: Bargain Booksy $40 & People Reads $9  and my newsletter goes out (1500 subscribers) and an email from a critique forum I belong to (critters.org) that critiqued the novel. Also, will start using copromote to extend my reach.
  • Saturday 4/8: Free Kindle Books & Tips $25. I will also boost a Facebook post to people that like my page, their friends, and upload my newsletter email list. http://www.critters.org will also resend my info to the group.
  • Sunday 4/9: Resend my newsletter to non-openers as a “Thank-you for your support” email. Awesomegang $10 & SweetFreeBooks $7
  • Monday 4/10: BK Knights $11. I’m participating in a cross-promotion for Science Fiction & Fantasy Books priced at 99 cents. 4/10 through 4/16.

Post-Launch:

I may add to this list as opportunities arise. I want to keep the momentum going (if possible.)

Second week post-launch:

  • Tuesday 4/11: SF&F 99 Cent Cross Promo
  • Wednesday 4/12: SF&F 99 Cent Cross Promo and resend my newsletter to non-openers through a different mail program (Mailerlite instead of Mailchimp) trying to get as many opens as possible.
  • Thursday 4/13 through Sunday 4/16: SF&F 99 Cent Cross Promo

Third week post-launch:

  • Wednesday 4/19: Multi-genre indie author cross promo 99 cents
  • Thursday 4/20: Multi-genre indie author cross promo 99 cents and a newsletter swap with another indie author

Fourth week post-launch:

  • Saturday 4/29: Fussy Librarian $22

I had heard that spending about $100 on a launch is helpful for the Amazon algorithms to kick in. (Even though that means I need to sell an impossible 432 books just to break even with this.) For my last book (Love, Lies & Clones) I spent virtually nothing on the launch and wanted to try something different with this novel. This whole thing is an experiment anyway. Maybe I’ll get it right when I release my next novel, The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives.

As always, I’ll make sure to update you with results. I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect launch, and what works for some won’t work for others, but, hey, it’s fun to try. 🙂

If you’re interested in how my last launch went (for Love, Lies & Clones), you can check out my blog posts here: 30 Days Post-Launch, 60 Days Post-Launch, 90 Days Post-Launch.

I’m always looking for advice. What am I missing?

My Writing Journey

My Writing Journey

If anyone is interested more about me (like, way more than you care to know) or just need a little motivation to keep you writing, here’s a summary of my writing journey. (Forgive me if I got a little “preachy” in the piece.)

Thank you E. Paige Burks (and Infinity Flower Publishing) for hosting me on your blog. I really enjoyed writing this piece.

Here’s a little snippet:

My Writing Journey – Perseverance – Joynell Schultz

The quote, “You are your own worst enemy,” sums up my writing journey and affects many artists. Heck, I think everyone struggles with this to one point or another.

As far back as I remember, I loved writing. My favorite part was looking at the finished product and saying, “Hey, I created that OUT OF NOTHING!” Each story always brought me some emotional satisfaction. The characters, their struggle, or just the way the plot was crafted. Not that I’m brilliant…far from it.

I think nearly anyone can write. It’s just a matter of how much work you’re willing to put into the story. It wasn’t until a little over a year ago I had this revelation.

… Read the whole article here: My Writing Journey – Perseverance …

Have a fantastic rest of your day!

–Joy

 

Book Spotlight – MALL FAIRIES: EXILE by Conda V. Douglas

Book Spotlight (2)

Novel: Mall Fairies: Exile

Author: Conda V. Douglas

Genre: Fantasy / Teen / Children

How I found this book: I participated in a Facebook giveaway event, where I offered to read and review a speculative fiction novel on my blog as a prize. Conda V. Douglas was that lucky winner.

Amazon book description:

mall fairies

Swoop the fairy lives in the attic of a shopping mall and loves it. She’s terrified of Outside, where fairies can die. But when Swoop finds her best friend One Wing in the company of a human, she determines she’ll do anything to save him from being exiled Outside.

 

What’s not in the blurb: Besides being about Swoop the fairy, it’s also alternates perspectives with a teenage human named Grace who is torn between her love for her grandmother and starting a new life for herself.

As I writer, what I really enjoyed and appreciated: I really appreciated the quirky names the fairies were given (with such a large cast of characters, it was great they had names that described their personality or physical attributes. Besides One-Wing and Swoop, the cast consisted of Shiver, Smoke, Buzz, Grey Wing, Jumper, and I could go on and on.) I also enjoyed the fairy society Conda V. Douglas created in the mall. The fairies had their own quirks, rules, fears, and pastimes that were specific to their species.

Who’d enjoy this book: This book is listed in Amazon under “Children’s books”, but I feel it applies to a larger audience than that. I personally felt it would easily fit in the “Young Adult” category. Anyone who enjoys fairies and contemporary fantasy with a younger cast will enjoy this story.

My overall impression: Mall Fairies: Exile was a fun read with an overarching theme of bonds with family / friends and facing your past.  Told mostly from alternating perspectives between two teenagers (one being a fairy who lives in a mall and the other a girl who’s grandma owns a store in that mall) this engaging story was full of flawed characters who made bad decisions and their struggle to redeem themselves. They are filled with struggles many teenagers can relate too. It’s the great start to a series in an interesting world created by the author.

About the author: Award winning author Conda grew up in the ski resort of SunValley, Idaho. Her childhood was filled with authors and artists and myriad other creative types. She grew up with goats in the kitchen, buffalo bones in the living room and rocks in the bathtub.Now her life is filled with her cat, dog, permanent boyfriend and writing.

Conda adores writing the popular tween fantasy Mall Fairies series. The fairy inspiration for her Mall Fairies came from the sparrows that live in the Boise Towne Square Mall in Boise, Idaho. One day she saw the sparrows nesting high on a window ledge and thought, “What if those were fairies?” The Mall Fairies series bloomed into two novels, The Mall Fairies: Exile and The Mall Fairies: War, a short story A Foodie Fairy’s First Foray and a cookbook, The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook. When not rescuing fairies from humans, cats and themselves, Conda works on the last title in the Mall Fairy trilogy, The Mall Fairies: Destiny.

Where to find this novel:

  • Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007NJD1AM
  • Amazon UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007NJD1AM

You can get the bundle of the entire trilogy here:

  • Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QVT6WLK
  • Amazon UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00QVT6WLK

Other books in the series:

  • A foodie Fairy’s First Foray
  • The Mall Fairies: War

My disclosure: I hate star ratings. Honestly, I think these are so subjective and sometimes reflect the reader more than they do the book. Because this is my blog, and I can do anything I want, I’m not using them. I think ANYBODY who puts the time, effort, and dedication to write and publish an entire novel deserves a big KUDOS.

 

Lessons Learned; 90 Days of Self-Publishing

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I’m now out past the dreaded 90 days since self-publishing my novel, Love, Lies & Clones. I posted about my lessons learned in the first 30 days HERE and the first 60 days HERE.

Remember my writing goal? All I want is for people to READ what I’ve wrote. I have no goals to make any sort of real money doing it. (It’d be nice if it wasn’t a money-sucking hobby though.)

Here’s how the first 30 and 60 days went (I published December 16th).

First 30 Days Dec 16th to Jan 15th (Book priced at 99 cents)

  • Expenses: $389
  • Income: $95
  • Profit/Loss: $-294
  • Sold 63 eBooks, 18 paperbacks, and 3824 Kindle Unlimited page reads.

Next 30 Days Jan 16th to Feb 15th (Book priced at $2.99)

  • Expenses: $5
  • Income: $135
  • Profit/Loss: $130 this month profit (but still at a loss of $-259 overall)
  • Sold 13 eBooks & 5 paperbacks and 480 Kindle Unlimited page reads.
  • (Despite making more money, I wasn’t happy that only 18 people grabbed a copy of my novel. Remember, I’m trying to get people to read my stuff.)

So, how did the next 30 days go?

When you sign up for Kindle Select, you are enrolled in a 3 month contract. In that three months, in exchange for exclusivity to Amazon, you receive two benefits.

  1. You are enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. That means that your book is made “FREE” to Amazon’s KU subscribers. As an author, you get paid per page these readers read. (It averages about 1/2 a cent per page.) I had thought this would open my book up to a pile of readers, but I’ve been disappointed.
  2. You are given a choice of two promotions in the 3 month period. Kindle Countdown Deals or “FREE” book day. I wanted to try the countdown deal, since I heard so much good about it making your book discoverable. Again, I was disappointed.

Why is it dreaded to be out more than 90 days? Amazon has lists of new releases. They have a 30 day new release list and a 90 day new release. After 90 days, you’re on your own in the sea of 5 million books. (That’s why, ideally, publishing something every 90 days is helpful for maximum exposure.)

Okay, to the good part of this post. The numbers.

I’ve already posted about my Kindle Countdown Deal I ran HERE. Overall, I was happy to sell 138 books. I had to spend another $219 which I didn’t earn it all back. The rest of the month, I only participated in free promotions. How’d I do?

How’d I do this Past 30 Days Feb 16th to Mar 15th (Book priced at $2.99 with a Kindle Countdown Deal at 99 cents for 7 days)

  • Expenses: $219
  • Income: $121
  • Profit/Loss: $-98 this month profit (total loss of $-357 overall)
  • Sold 140 eBooks & 1 paperbacks and 4572 Kindle Unlimited page reads.
  • (Overall, I got over 140 copies of my book into people’s hands. That made me happy, but there has to be a way to do this without being an expense.)

Lesson’s Learned This Month:

Kindle Countdown Deals: Dropping the price to 99 cents and paying for advertising doesn’t amount to a profit (Unless, you get a Book Bub deal or have more books in a series to sell.) Next, I would like to try pricing my book at “FREE” to see what effect that has–especially since I’ll have another book published and “FREE” sales of one may lead to actual sales of the other.

Kindle Select (Amazon Exclusivity): I’m teetering on whether this is worth it or not. I believe for romance genres, it may be worth it, as there are a lot of Kindle Unlimited subscribers. (Romance readers tend to go through books quickly.) Here’s how I’m torn:

  • Staying in the program: Will my page reads go up when I have a second book out there? Can I increase the number of readers by using Amazon’s “FREE” pricing promotion?
  • Leaving the program: I’d like to be able to give my books away free as a subscriber magnet to build my newsletter, but I’m tied in with Amazon at the moment. Also, I’d have the ability to go “wide” listing my books on other platforms such as Kobo, Google, iBooks, etc. (Though, I understand these platforms are small potatoes compared to Amazon.)

Overall, I decided to stay with Amazon exclusivity for one more contract cycle (3 months) to answer the questions I have about a second book helping the first and how the “FREE” days work.

Amazon Product Page (Sales Page): Three (four?) things REALLY Matter: Cover Art, Title, Blurb, (Reviews?). I think my blurb is good, reviews are good too. Title, I can’t change, but I can add a subtitle. I may have an issue with my cover. I’m completely beginning to buy into it’s worth spending money on a fantastic cover. It really does mean a lot.

What I’ve Done, Moving Forward:

I played again with my cover for Love, Lies & Clones and am currently experimenting with this one. I’m already seeing some increased sales. It’s still not my answer. I also added a subtitle to the novel: “A Captivating Futuristic Mystery Novel.” Again, I probably could do better, but it’s a start.

llc low

I’ve decided to continue in the Kindle Select exclusivity program for another 3 months, more as a trial than for anything else. Here’s the three things I wish to accomplish:

  • See if by having a second book published, if it effects sales of the other books.
  • I’ll experiment with some FREE advertising days, instead of the Kindle Countdown. I had been hesitant because do people really read free books? At this point, it’s worth a try. Bonus – this achieves my goal of my book being in more people’s hands. I just hope they read it.
  • I’ll also experiment with some variations in pricing. I may become the “All Books Only 99 Cents — ALL THE TIME” author. (I’m happy to give up the 70% royalties at the $2.99 price point in exchange for more readers.)

Take Home Message:

First, despite all these “Lessons Learned” I am very happy on how Love, Lies & Clones has performed. (Especially for someone who had NO IDEA what they were doing regarding marketing. Remember when I thought all I had to do was hit publish and thousands of people would find my book?)

  • I have 23 reviews on it with an average star rating of 4.8 stars. Not so bad for a first book.
  • I’ve had a ton of feedback from people that this book got them into reading again as it was so easy to follow and a page-turner, that they don’t typically read sci-fi, but this book was realistic and enjoyable, and even that they connected with the main character and reexamined their own practices in their life. Win. Win. Win.
  • A typical self-published novel sells about 250 copies in it’s lifetime (stats from HERE). Love, Lies & Clones has sold 243 books so far…and only 3 months has passed.

As I plan the release of my next novel, Blood & Holy Water (launch day is set for April 4th) I’ll be modifying some of the things I tried with Love, Lies & Clones and taking some different approaches. Stay tuned for updates on that launch.

Again, thanks for sharing this journey with me. I’ll post another update on Love, Lies & Clones after this next 90 days.

–Joy

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

 

Book Spotlight – BEYOND THE FOREST by Kay L. Ling

book-spotlight-1

Novel: Beyond the Forest

Author: Kay L. Ling

Genre: Urban Fantasy / Epic Fantasy

How I found this book: Beyond the Forest was up for nominations in the Kindle Scout program at the same time that I had my first novel (Love, Lies & Clones) in the program. Seeing the story so much, I just had to read it!

Amazon book description:

beyond-the-forest

Lana can draw arcane powers from gemstones, but she’s no match for a gem master like Sheamathan, brutal ruler of the gnome world. The oppressed gnomes of Shadow long for a better life, and Lana agrees to study their native gems to find a solution. But when she goes through the portal, she discovers her gnome guide has a different agenda. He takes her straight to Sheamathan’s castle through a land full of mutant insects, intelligent flying serpents, and other horrors. There, he forces Lana to make a choice–turn her back on the gnomes and go home, or brave Sheamathan’s goblin-like servants to find the throne room and deliver a warning. Only someone very brave or very foolish would risk enchantment, the dungeon, or death, but the gnomes’ conflict may spill over into her world if Lana refuses to go.

What’s not in the blurb: I’m a sucker for any story that has a little clean romance…and this one does. It snuck up on me, which was a pleasant surprise.

As I writer, what I really enjoyed and appreciated: Kudos to the author on her grasp and description of the fantasy world. I struggle with world building and really appreciated Kay L. Ling’s amazing grasp of the world she created. Her creativity and descriptions of the giant flying insects had me shivering in repulsion. Bravo! In addition to the fantastic world building, I appreciated the humor she brought in with the giant talking rats. Giant rats? You’ll have to read the story. 🙂

Who’d enjoy this book: Lovers of both epic fantasy and urban fantasy who want to read something more positive and uplifting.

My overall impression: Beyond the forest took me to another land with a main character (Lana) that followed her heart. There was the right amount of humor (sometimes, even silly, which I love) to keep me entertained. I defiantly cheered for Lana and her crew of gnomes and other fantasy creatures. The whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking how it reminded me of Lord of the Rings. I will definitely be watching for the second novel in this series, Shadowglade.

About the author: Kay L. Ling began writing fiction at an early age. In grade school, her stories evidenced a sense of wonder and love of adventure. In one, mythical creatures lived and traveled inside a rainbow, and in another, a bored sixth-grader turned her teacher into a maroon sofa and then teleported herself to London. As she grew up, Kay never lost her ability to imagine strange and wondrous peoples and places, and now she would like to share her unique fantasy adventures with others.

Where to find this novel:

  • Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M6AIPYX
  • Amazon UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M6AIPYX

Other books in the series:

  • Shadowglade (Coming in spring.)

My disclosure: I hate star ratings. Honestly, I think these are so subjective and sometimes reflect the reader more than they do the book. Because this is my blog, and I can do anything I want, I’m not using them.

I think ANYBODY who puts the time, effort, and dedication to write and publish an entire novel deserves 5 stars anyway. Also, when I read indie authors, I realize they operate on a shoestring (non-existent) budget and don’t have a team of college educated professionals helping them fine tune their novels.

 

Kindle Countdown Deal – Results

Last week, I had my first Kindle Countdown Deal for my novel Love, Lies & Clones. If you remember back to my comments in my 30 day and 60 day self-publishing update, I raised the price of my novel to $2.99 solely so I could participate in this promotion. It’s also one of the reasons to be exclusive to Amazon.

kindle-countdown-deal

(If you don’t know what a Kindle Countdown Deal is, it’s a short time period–up to a week–where you can put your book on “sale” to attract more readers. When the book is on “sale” you still collect the higher royalty rate (70%) rather than the 35% they’d typically mark you down to.)

Previously, I posted that I decided to run pain promotions to advertise my countdown deal. Here was my line up and spending. I added my daily sales to each line.

2/16 – Book Barbarian ($20) & My Book Cave-All Week Exposure ($20) 21 eBook sales
2/17 – eReader News Today ENT ($30) & Sweet Free Books ($7) & My Newsletter  35 eBook sales
2/18 – Book Sends / eReader IQ ($35) 21 eBook sales
2/19 – Guest blog for Mystery Thriller Week (Free), HeadTalker Campaign (Free), & a few Ask David Tweets ($2 – Maybe) 7 eBook sales
2/20 – eReader Cafe ($25) & a few more Ask David Tweets ($1 maybe) 13 eBook sales
2/21 – Free Kindle Books & Tips FKBT ($30) 14 eBook sales
2/22 – Bargain Booksy $50 24 eBook sales

My goals weren’t to make back my investment. Actually, I was only hoping to make back half of it. So, how’d I do?

  • I sold 137 electronic books and 1 paperback.
  • I had 2706 page reads during the promo and 661 reads in the 5 days since the promo.
  • Total spend was $219. Royalty earnings of the book sales and page reads was about $109. (Yup. I made back roughly half of my spend.)

But making money wasn’t my goal at all. From reading a ton of blog posts from other authors, I knew I wouldn’t make money with a countdown deal. My two main motivations were:

  1. Have people find my book! There are 5 MILLION ebooks in the kindle store. How the heck do people even find mine? By selling your book, you build up your ranking, your also bought lists, Kindle Unlimited borrows/page reads, you get put on the Kindle Countdown Page, and other things.  –OR–
  2. Prove to myself that being exclusive to Amazon is not worth it. That, even with paying good money for promotions and doing the Amazon special deals, people still don’t find your book.

I had other motivations too:

  1. Determine if I’m better off listing this as a mystery/thriller or a sci-fi. Now, when I peek at my also boughts and the number of books sold with each promotion, it appears sticking with sci-fi is the winner.
  2. Build up “also boughts” to make it discoverable when people browse other books. I went from 1 page of also boughts to 13.
  3. Determine if it’s worth giving it away Free. (Or not promoting the countdown deal at all.)
  4. Decide to “go wide” or stay exclusive to Amazon. I still want to try a few more things before I make this decision. (Things I have up ahead: Kindle Unlimited Cross Promo, Publishing a new book & possibly experimenting with free days.)
  5.  Experiment for future book launches. I wanted to try these promo sites before launching Blood & Holy Water. I want to try to do that launch right.
  6. Experiment with these paid promo sites. Do the higher priced ones get you more sales? (Bargain Booksy was not worth the $50, in my opinion.)

To my surprise, what I wasn’t expecting was to actually have people read the book and respond. I mean, come on, Joy, that’s your main motivation for writing. I had two nice things happen to me.

  1. I received one review from the countdown so far — a 5 star! (I love 5 star reviews.)
  2. I received an email from somebody else, praising my story saying he’ll be watching for more books from me.

Maybe these two will become loyal “true” fans.

Also, I did hit #59 in one Amazon category. (Probably better than that, but I went to bed.) I was in the top 100 in the other two categories.

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So, my overall thoughts on the Countdown Deal? I’m still not really sure.

  • On one hand, I’m happy because I sold 138 books plus had people actually read it through the Kindle Unlimited program. That’s my goal right? To have people read my book? BUT, something sits wrong with me having to lose money to do so. I debate pricing my book at free to get it in people’s hands, but still struggle if people actually read the free books they download. I mean, I have a pile of free books on my Kindle I haven’t touched. Now, if I pay for them, I’m more likely to read them. Then I debate going permanently at 99 cents. I was hoping to earn back my initial investment before I went this route, but I don’t know. Have I mentioned that I just want people to read my book?
  • On the other hand, it’s a fiscally losing problem. I understand BookBub is really the way to go with adverting that brings a positive return on your investment (and it comes with a hefty price tag of somewhere around $500 depending on the genre.) The problem: Bookbub is quite restrictive and only select a fraction of the people that apply. I’ll try for it, as soon as I have 20 reviews and have Blood & Holy Water published. The other downside, is I had to raise the price of my book to $2.99 for 30 days before the promo (and 14 days after). I wonder how many sales I lost because of it? I mean, I made more money at $2.99, but making money is not my primary goal. (And less book sales = lower rank on Amazon.) Also, there were other free cross-promotion opportunities I would have liked to take part in, but couldn’t because my book was priced at $2.99 with no flexibility.

Lessons learned: If I do this again, things I want to remember.

  1. If the #1 spot in the book’s category is possible, STACKING PROMOS on a single day or over a few days is a better option. (You can check an approximate number of books sold per day for the #1 position by plugging it into this free tool HERE. It tells you how many books per day of that book sell…you have to be able to sell more than that number.)
  2. If the #1 spot is not possible, you want to spread the sales out. With the Amazon algorithms, consistent sales (and reviews) keep your built up rank longer–which makes you more visible.
  3. Some sites are better than others for promoting. I picked my promotion sites based on other’s recommendations. My gut’s telling me that Book Barbarian, ENT, My Newsletter, (maybe eReadercafe & FKBT) are my best choices for next time. (Of note, back when I first released, I used much cheaper promo sites and had very little results. I was intentionally using more expensive ones for this promo.)
  4. Newsletter is great. People click photos, so make it pretty. Keep building your newsletter list.
  5. In the mornings, before the paid promo launched, I had very few sales. I really believe that just having a countdown deal, with no advertising, will not get you far.

I come back to the same conclusion. How do you sell more books? Write more books! Everyone says it’ll take off with book 3 or 4…probably in a single series.

Again, thanks for sharing this journey with me. Until next time.

–Joy

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