Tag Archives: FREE promotion

Is it Tacky?

Hello there, Scribes fans. Sugar, here.

I’ve been published for almost a week now. And these past few days people kept asking me how I felt about it. Like they were expecting me to be irrevocably different just because I had a book on the shelves. I’m not sure how it is for other debut others, but I feel…. exactly the same. I still go to work and get teased by my brothers. I still write my thousand words a day and doubt every sentence that goes on the page.

The only other difference is that extra layer of worry that I carry around with me, that nobody is going to buy my book and if they do they are going to hate it. But other than that I’m still the same person I was a year ago. Just with a different set of worries.

And one of those worries is promotion related. How much is too much? We all know the “BUY MY BOOK” messages we see authors splash across their Twitter and Facebook accounts are annoying and not effective. Some might even call them tacky. I don’t think those writers spam us with those things to be annoying. I think they just want to attract more readers to their books and as writers we all want that.

But how do we do it?

I keep asking that question and nobody seems to have the answer to it. I’ve heard blogging is dead and that Facebook is passe and that tweeting is like screaming into the wind. I heard people say that ads on websites are like white noise and that most people don’t notice them because they are inundated with so many.

So what’s left?

Street teams? A street team, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is basically a group or team of people who hit the “streets” to promote something. For authors a street team might hand out books marks, request that your book be carried in store and leave good reviews for the author on Amazon and other sites, talk to your book up to anybody who will listen and a variety of other things. In return these dedicated fans get swag or free books and the author’s many thanks.

I personally hold all judgement on Street Teams. They seem to work beautifully for some authors. But lately I’ve been seeing a few authors bash them. One author I follow is of the mindset that it’s the author’s job to promote their book and it’s wrong to ask fans to do it for them. That readers should only leave reviews if they want to. They should only recommend books that are truly worth recommending, not because they are loyal to the author. And that word of mouth should spread naturally.

I think it’s an interesting position to take. Doctor’s don’t ask for reviews, and neither do hairstylist, restaurants or teachers. Could you imagine if after a meal your waiter asked you to immediately go home and get on Yelp and rate his performance and the food that evening and tell everyone you met about how great their restaurant was? Wouldn’t you be a little taken aback if that happened?

People do leave reviews for restaurants and hairstylist and even doctors nowadays but only because they want to not because they are asked.

But on the flip side of that argument. Nobody is forcing anybody to join these teams. People do it because they want to support an author and in the end is that really such a bad thing?

I do think there is a certain etiquette a writer must have when conducting themselves. But what is it? There are no written rules.

So I have some questions I hope you can all help me answer about what is tacky and what isn’t.

This week I have gotten six emails (from strangers!) telling me how much they loved my book and can’t wait to read more of my work. Would it be tacky to ask them to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter or leave their reviews on Amazon?

Is it tacky to email a blog that you have never commented on and don’t regularly visit and ask to be featured there? (Having a blog tour set up for you is a different story.)  Isn’t it like inviting yourself to a party?

Is it tacky to ask your friends to pimp your book on their Facebook pages? I have wonderful friends who did this for me without asking. And I have never been asked to do it myself. But if I enjoy a book or simply like an author I will.

Is it tacky to curse of social media? I don’t know if you know this, but elementary school teachers curse more than anybody else on the planet. Simply because we have to keep it together all day and be positive role models for small children. Sometimes I find really funny someecards that I want to post on my fan page that have the bad words in them, but I don’t because I’m trying to keep it classy, even though I’m a little bit trashy.

Are naked man pictures tacky? If cursing is taboo then why isn’t man butt? I’ve seen some authors post pictures that are just shy of soft core porn. Would we stand for it if a male author were posting pictures of nearly nude women everyday?

Keep in mind I pass no judgement on any of these things. I’m simply wondering what folks find tacky these days? Please share your thoughts with me.

Results of FREE Promo

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, Scribe fans. It’s been an amazing year. Four YA novels and a short story published, and I’ve learned tons about the business. A huge thanks to all those who have read and helped spread the word about my books this past year. There is no way I could have done all of this without you. I’m truly grateful and humbled by the generosity of my writing community. You guys rock!

I just came off a two day Free promo for Heaven is for Heroes and On Thin Ice. Sales for both books had trickled to a slow drip over the last six months and I thought a run in the KDP Select program might breathe new life into my visibility through the holidays. As with all of my promotional efforts, it’s pretty much of an experiment each and every time since what works one day in publishing may not work the next.

In hind site, my biggest mistake was that I didn’t plan far enough ahead to garner a spot in any of the paid advertising sites like Pixel of Ink, E-reader News Today, Kindle Nation Daily, or one of the newer sites Book Bub, a site that I’ve heard is getting some impressive attention. Some of these sites take one to six months to get an ad, and some cost as much as $200 for a one day advertisement. Pricey, but usually worth it to reach the 10,000+ mark for downloads in a two day period. The consensus seems to be that two days is the charm, as downloads usually drop by day three and if you haven’t hit the top 100 list on Amazon, you’re not likely to beyond day three. The idea is that if you can get enough volume of downloads, it will affect your rankings and set you up for a nice bump in sales once the book goes back into the paid store. At least that’s how it used to work.

Amazon appears to be fond of changing the rules on us Indies as soon as we figure out how to make the system work for us. I’m sure you’ve heard or read about incidents of things like reviews disappearing arbitrarily, algorithms changing to favor traditionally published and higher priced books, and the shifty way they manipulate the rankings after a free promo. In other words, it’s beginning to feel like the cards are stacked against us.

For example, in March I did a two day FREE promo for Savage Cinderella. Granted, I was part of a group of 19 authors giving our books away and cross-promoting the event, clearly able to reach many more readers than going solo, but I had 28,000 downloads, made it into the Amazon top 100, and had an uptick in sales for about three weeks after the promotion, selling about 800 books that month. This week’s promotion didn’t do nearly as well, but I didn’t expect it to given I hadn’t advertised ahead of time and didn’t have the cross-promotion benefits. I did get several new twitter followers and a few new FB “likes” out of the deal and my books are in the hands of a few thousand new readers—always a good thing! Hopefully, it will translate to some postiive reviews.

Here are my results:

Heaven is for Heroes:

2,868 US downloads, 96 (UK), 25 (de), 3(Fr.), 1 (es.), 4 (It.), 1 (Jap), and 7 (Ca.)

Amazon Bestseller Rankings:

#130 Free Kindle store

#8 Kindle store>e-books>teens

#32 kindle store>e-books>fiction>genre fiction>romance contemporary

On Thin Ice:

825 US Downloads, 114 (UK), 22 (de), 2 (Ca.)

#453 in Kindle store

#14 Kindle store>Kindle books>teen>romance

OBSERVATIONS:

Not bad numbers overall, considering there were no paid ads and I basically depended on Twitter and Facebook for advertising. I listed the books on half a dozen Facebook pages that allowed for promotion of free books, focusing on YA sites. I belong to several writers loops and had lots of help spreading the word (THANK YOU Wana Minions, CTRWA buddies, Authors Network and the WG2E Street team folks.)

I had low expectations of this promotion since it was a last minute decision and I scrambled to pull it together. I’ll see over the next week whether sales are given a boost, but I’m not anticipating that since the rankings dropped back to the pre-promo numbers as soon as I came off of FREE. It used to take a few days for this to happen, but Amazon’s new practices seem to expedite this process, making it that much harder for authors to take advantage of short term boosts in rankings. I was hoping I’d stay in the visible top 100 to catch those new Kindle owners after Christmas, but I’m thinking that’s not going to happen either. They’ll likely be loading up on the FREE books going up next week, the zillion .99 cent books that will be available over the next month, and the lucky ducks sitting on the Top 100 list that most people find as soon as they fire up their Kindles.

One interesting note is the number of downloads of Heaven is for Heroes verses On Thin Ice. On Thin Ice has been my best seller for several months, selling twice as many in the UK as here in the US, and outselling my other titles three to one. Heaven is for Heroes 72 dpi 600x900 WEBSITE USESince the only thing I did to change the game was to change my cover for Heaven is for Heroes, I’m wondering if that might be what gave the book a boost.

My favorite takeaway from this promotion is seeing downloads in Italy, Japan, and Canada, new markets previously untapped for me. Very exciting!

I hope Santa was good to you all and that whatever you’re doing today, you’ll find some downtime to escape into a good book. Merry Christmas everyone!

Any questions? Thoughts? Ideas?