Tag Archives: promotion

Oh, tumblr, how I love thee!

PJ here, and I’ve finally found a form of social media I love! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy checking in with friends and readers on Facebook, but many of those folks are writers, friends, family, high school alumni, and adults who enjoy reading YA fiction, and it can often take up a lot of time getting caught up on everyone’s happenings. I engage in twitter on a regular basis, but as with FB, most of my twitter followers are other writers. After taking a Publicity 101 workshop with Heather Riccio recently, I was prompted to reach out more directly to my audience (namely teens), through tumblr. It turns out, tumblr is easy and really fun!tumblr icon 2 (2013_06_02 00_59_02 UTC)

I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to how I can reach readers and looking at where I’ve had my focus in terms of marketing and social media. Recognizing that I have to expand that all-important sphere of influence and try to connect with readers wherever they may be, tumblr was on the no-brainer list. It was highly recommended by my YA writing peers that tumblr and Instagram are the go-to locations for teens. For sanity’s sake, I chose only one.

I’m just getting started and I still have to work out a few kinks, but I really like tumblr. You can check out my new page here: http://pjsharonbooks.tumblr.com/ I will have to add my books to my page so readers will know where to find them, but I’ll add a little at a time as I figure out how to find teen followers. As with FB and twitter, it’s a slow build.

Tumblr is where I can post a cool pic right from my phone or computer, with a short blurb about the photo, about life, or about any number of things I think are awesome.

Basically, I’ll share snapshots of life as I see it—another way to share my message of hope with teens. I’ll post about my books as well, but 80% of my communication here is going to be about sharing pieces of me with teen readers.  You can add  a custom background, change fonts, and even connect your posts to FB and twitter, a great way for me to contribute to my brand on my FB PJSharonBooks page.

I realized a long time ago that blogging every day on a static website page was nearly impossible, despite the encouragement of publicity specialists who insist that consistent, frequent posts will garner attention and gain you an audience. Frankly, I don’t have the time or enough interesting, informative, or entertaining things to talk about every day. As it is, I currently use my web site’s home page as a way to keep readers updated monthly about sales, contests, and news about appearances. Keeping your content fresh and making your posts “value added” for readers is a challenge.  Blogs such as the one you’re reading now take significant time and effort and weekly blog posting is more than enough for most of us.

I figured a daily blog that literally only takes me two minutes to post would be a great way to start making a shift in the right direction. It’s kind of addictive and oh, so simple, I think I’ll be very happy there and don’t feel the need to explore Instagram at this point. I hope you’ll follow me or share with any teens you think might enjoy some clean, fun entertainment.

What about you? Have you tried tumblr? What’s your favorite mode of social media and why?

Additional announcements:

1.) The winner of last weeks audio book of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES is Brenda Maxfield! Congratulations, Brenda! I’ll be contacting you to collect your FREE audiobook download.

2.) Readers have until September 11th to enter to win a FREE signed copy of WESTERN DESERT, book two in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy as part of a Goodreads giveaway. You can enter to win herehttp://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/61971-western-desert

Blazing a Trail by Frankie Roberston

Welcome to another Friday at the 7 Scribes. Casey here. Today, Frankie Roberston is my returning as my guest and she’s sharing her self-publication journey with her latest book BLAZING A TRAIL.

Take it away, Frankie!

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http://www.dreamstime.com/-image8529767Thanks for inviting me to guest post, Casey!

When I started thinking about self-publishing way back in 2010, I had a lot of questions.

Should I find an all-in-one author service, or hire separate vendors?

How much would all this cost?

Could I really make any money at this?

Would self-publishing destroy any hope of respect for my writing?

I didn’t know anything about it, but I knew a few people who were convinced that the long predicted transformation from paper to digital books was finally about to become a popular reality, so I started learning. The more I learned, the more I realized I didn’t know, but I finally reached a point where I had to leap in and start swimming. Within a year of publishing a novel with a small press, I had also self-published three novels and a novelette. It was exhilarating, but I was still learning and muddling through as best I could.

I didn’t intend to set myself up as some kind of expert when I began blogging about my self-publishing journey. I was just sharing my experience, and my experience was that I was finding several college courses’ worth of information out on the web, posted by people who had already blazed a trail before me. People who often didn’t agree with each other about the best way to deliver stories to the readers.

I figured there were probably some other people as overwhelmed as I was, so I began posting about how I made my choices between divergent paths. At the urging of various readers, those posts (much revised) became BLAZING A TRAIL: Your Self Publishing Journey. I also included a bunch of interviews with other Indie authors, because I love reading about how other Indies are getting the job done. My way is far from being the only way, and I wanted readers to know that, too.

One thing many of the authors I interviewed agreed on is that one of the primary pleasures of self-publishing is the greater control we have over our careers. We decide about our covers, our editing, our release dates, and our promotions. Self-publishing is a lot of work, and it’s not for everyone, but as several authors said, being an Indie author is a lot of fun, too.

Now that I’ve learned a lot about self-publishing, I’m struck by a powerful truth: there is still so much more to learn. I’ll never feel like I “know it all.” Even the people I’ve learned from have changed their minds about various aspects of the industry as the publishing environment has changed. None of us can afford to stop learning, because the possibilities and opportunities keep changing. New data is coming to light every week. That avalanche of conflicting information can be overwhelming to the beginner. What I tried to do with BLAZING A TRAIL is to offer my experience as a guide for making decisions about the self-publishing process, to draw a rough map and point readers toward the best practices today.

Thanks for letting me share this part of my journey with you! I hope you’ll join me over on FrankieRobertson.com, where I’ll keep writing about what I learn on my self-publishing journey.

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For anyone interested in a copy of BLAZING A TRAIL –  http://www.amazon.com/BLAZING-TRAIL-Publishing-Journey-ebook/dp/B00BVUWONO

Scribesters, if you have questions for Frankie, ask away. Don’t be shy!

Is it really all about the numbers?

So long Christmas TreePJ Sharon here, coming to you from the hills, and enjoying country life. As many of you spent Superbowl Sunday watching football, laughing at commercials, and being entertained by Beyonce, I was out ringing in the spring. For me, the beginning of February marks a turn toward warmer weather and longer days. I know there will likely be plenty more cold and wintery weeks ahead, but I figure there are less ahead then there are behind. It’s also my birthday month—time to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Whether we’re talking about football scores, rising temperatures, or adding another year to my age, life seems to be all about the numbers these days. It certainly is when it comes to the book promoting business. Sales figures, rankings, budget—all very important to pay attention to when seeing what’s working and designing any future marketing plans. One of the benefits (or curses) about Indie publishing is that you have immediate access to your numbers. You can follow your rankings and sales to determine if your current promotion is working or if you need to change tactics the next time around.

I’ve done a few FREE promotions through Amazon’s KDP Select Program so I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at them. Whether they are as effective as they once were, or if all of these FREE books are killing the publishing industry are topics for another day. For today, I’m happy to share the all-important numbers of an Indie-published author trying to make a dent in this tough book economy. Last week, I had my second Contemporary YA novel, ON THIN ICE, available for FREE for three days. I thought you’d be interested in seeing how one of these FREE runs is done, and decide for yourself if it’s worth the work and expense.

Pre-FREE
January 1-25th 20 copies sold (2 borrows) (I won’t include all the foreign sales, but this title does tend to sell well in the UK)
Amazon Ranking: #75,623 in Kindle Store

FREE Run January 26-28th
Saturday, Jan 26th
7,984 downloads
Amazon Ranking: #64 in Kindle Free Store
#2 in Kindle store>Kindle e-books>Teens>Romance

Sunday, Jan. 27th
4,171 additional downloads
#19 in Kindle Free Store (highest ranking achieved in Free Store)
#2 Kindle store>Kindle e-books>teen>romance

Monday, Jan. 28th
3,791 additional downloads
#1 in the Teen Romance category…woohoo! Not bad for a book that has been on the “shelf” for a year.

Also notable were the foreign downloads. It’s always so cool to imagine people overseas reading my books!
UK=143; de (Germany)=24; France=5; Spain=2; Italy=1 (crazy Italians!); Japan=3; and Canada=15

Now, realize that when the book went back on sale in the paid store, no one had actually purchased it in three days so the ranking dropped to about 245,250th in the Amazon Paid store (yikes!), but once post-promotion sales started, the rankings jumped back up and hovered between 11,000th to 15,000th all week. I got a slight bump from pre-promo sales of 1-3 books a day to about 10 a day. That’s already beginning to fall back down to about 5 a day with total sales since coming off the FREE promo adding up to 50 copies of that one title sold in the past week. That’s more than double what I sold in the first three weeks of January. I’ve seen a slight boost in sales of my other titles as well. There have also been 24 borrows (as good as sales at $1.81 per borrow), and I’ve gotten a few positive reviews for ON THIN ICE.
Not the results I’d hoped for, but worth the effort? Sure. So here’s how I advertised the sale.

I gave myself a $100 budget figuring I would make up the cost with a post-promo sales bump of about 50 books. I’ve broken even on the promo after one week. Running the promotion on a Sat.-Mon. made it easier for me to be there to monitor results and landed at the end of the US Figure Skating Championships, which I wanted to honor by giving the book for FREE that week and getting it into skater’s hands.

I contacted the following sites several weeks (a month ahead of time in most cases):

Book Bub-It cost me $30 to advertise my FREE run but they are the current “premier” advertising site. It costs more for other genres, but most people are saying it’s worth the ad cost, especially if you’re offering a discounted book.( .99-2.99)
Story Finds-$20
Authors on the Cheap-$25
Book Goodies-$15 for 3 day ad.
Bargain e-book Hunter-$5
Orangeberry Book Tours-$10

The following sites were free to advertise with:
(ENT)E-reader News Today (they book up months in advance and sometimes aren’t open for scheduling), Indie Book of the Day, Pixel of Ink, Awesome Gang, E-reader Café, Free Book Dude, Ask David, Books on the Knob, Free Booksy, The Kindle Book Review, E-books Habit, YA Promo Central, Book Blast (Kindle Fire Department), and I did a post on the Readers Guide to E-Publishing (RG2E) on Saturday.
You’ll find many of these sites and their links listed on Kindle Book Promos at Kindle Book Promos and Media Bistro/Galley Cat.

The day of the sale, I also posted to Snicklist, Addicted to e-books, Free Kindle Fiction, Good Reads (Free Romance Books group), Google+, World Literary Café (WLC), and as many FaceBook pages as possible that had to do with Figure Skating and the US Championships—(Stop back next week when I’ll be talking about niche markets).

Some of the sites have restrictions (many won’t publicize erotica-not that I’m writing that, but some of you are), and some have some gate-keeping systems in place. Digital Book Today requires 18 reviews with an average 4.0 star rating before you can advertise with them. It took some time to weed through all of these sites, but now that I have my list and links, it only takes me a few hours to set up a really comprehensive and relatively inexpensive promotional blitz. Of course I also schedule my tweets to go out three to four times a day, ask my network peeps to spread the word, and spend some time promoting on Face Book throughout the three days.

I know it sounds like a lot of work. That’s because it is. I haven’t found an easy way to reach this many new readers so quickly, or give my sales a boost in any other way that doesn’t require an equal amount of effort or money. I try to do one big promotional event per month. February’s event will be a three day FREE run with HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES right after Valentine’s Day, hoping to hit those new Kindle owners whose thoughtful men bought them an e-reader. After that, these two titles come off of the Select program and will be available once again on BN and Smashwords. I also plan to upload them to I-Tunes and Kobo this go around so that they are available on as many distribution channels as possible. Then I’ll leave the kids alone to see how they fend for themselves while I focus my efforts on gearing up for the release of book two in The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, WESTERN DESERT, due out in June. It’s going to be a busy spring!

As far as other promotions, there are always the .99 cent sales, blog hops, blog tours, Good Reads giveaways, and contests. Each requires effort and planning and will yield different results depending upon the genre you write in, whether it’s your first or fifth book, and how the wind is blowing on any given day. All we can do is keep writing, add quality material to our cyber shelves, and hope our sails (and our sales) catch the wind when it blows our way.

Today’s Unlocked Secret: Don’t get too hung up on the numbers. Like age, the number doesn’t define us. How we navigate the rough seas tells us who we are. Happy sales!

Any questions?

Blessings,

PJ

Fight for Your Goals, Live for Your Dreams

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

UndeadSpaceInitiative_400Now that I’m plotting my next book, I’ve been thinking about my writing career a bit. As a rule, I don’t think too much about where I see myself in the future.

Probably a bad thing, but I’m a worrier by nature and I’m trying to curb the habit by living more in the moment. That means learning to accept the things I can control and letting go of the things that I can’t.

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve become published is that there is a lot more pressure (often not self-imposed) to promote the heck out of your books and/or yourself. I admit that I have promoted myself through social media, blog tours, paid ads, ect.

And for the most part, I’ve resented all the time it’s taken away from my writing. I am one of those people who subscribes to the belief that the best marketing tool is your next book. Yet, I got sucked into the promotional vortex and paid the price by only completing two books last year (and one of them two days before X-Mas!).

I know writers who would kill to finish two books in a year, but for me, I wanted three. Maybe this year, I will meet that goal.

Before I go further, there is a difference between a goal and a dream. A dream is something out of your hands (like winning the lottery, making the NY Times Bestseller list, going to Mars).

Hope Springs
Fake movie theater – Stonington Point, CT

While a goal, is something you can achieve through your own actions. Want to be on the NY Times Bestseller list?  First, realize this is a dream and not in your control. But what you can do, is control yourself by writing the best books you can. You can continue to learn the craft of writing so readers, when they do discover you, want to read more of your books. If you’ve been spinning your wheels on the same book for years, time to think about changing focus.

If you want to be on the NY Times list, you’ll also need to recognize one simple fact – you can’t make anyone buy your book. Remember, dreams are outside your control.

Not sure which is a dream and which is an achievable goal?

Dream: win a RITA (or other award) Goal: learn skill ___ to improve writing. Take a class, read a book on craft, find a mentor (wash, rinse, repeat) Goal: submit published novel (or unpublished manuscript) to contests (again, you can’t control if you win, but you can use it as a learning experience to improve your writing.)

Dream: become rich and/or famous with your writing Goal: complete a novel in 2013 or

Goal: submit polished novel to agent or editor or pursue indie publishing.

Filming - Hope Springs - Stonington Point, CT
Filming – Hope Springs – Stonington Point, CT

Dream: sell X number of books. Goal: schedule an appearance at your local bookstore or library.(Remember, you can’t make people buy your books but you can make a favorable impression.) Goal: write your next novel and stop worrying about sales.

Now before you raise your arm and shout “Blasphemy!”, consider this - Do you let other people tell you what to buy? If I followed you around a store, chanting, “buy my book, buy my book!”, you’d call security. Then you’d probably never buy anything of mine ever again because I was obnoxious and rude. Not to mention, no one likes other people telling them how to think.

Hopefully, you’re sensing a theme: you can control your time, your output, your quality and yourself.

So, no matter how much control we writers have over our work these days, some things haven’t changed. Readers want to discover good books and they will find you eventually. As my fellow Scribe PJ says of a writing career, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

In the meantime, here is my goal for 2013: head down, write more, learn more, and be considerate to others. Always!

Share and share alike. What has your experience been? What strategies do you use to fight for your goals?

One Year Indie Published

Tuesday’s Child, PJ Sharon here. Thanks to all of you, I had a fun and successful launch day for Waning Moon last Friday. I can’t believe that it took publishing four books in a year for me to finally FEEL like an author. I think I needed to finally take the time to celebrate my accomplishments before I could really recognize them. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’ve worked hard this past year, but being a goal oriented person, I tend to look at all that’s ahead of me and forget to be in the moment, appreciating all the blessings along the way. As a yoga practitioner, you’d think I would be a pro at remaining present, but it’s no secret that the writer’s life is far from balanced and that none of us can be totally zen about daunting deadlines and promo pressures. So now that I’ve had my celebratory pause, and before I look forward, I thought I’d look back at the past year and see how I did on my goals.

 

In honor of my one year as an Indie-published author, I wanted to share my sales numbers. The following are close estimations as I haven’t counted venues like ARe (All Romance e-reads), Create Space, and the few hardcopies I’ve sold at signings. These are e-book sales only.

 

Heaven is for Heroes:                           On Thin Ice:                    Savage Cinderella:          

Release date: 9/24/11                            12/15/11                                3/24/12                           

Amazon US:       682                                1250                                       1526
Amazon UK:         22                                  361                                           29
Amazon Eu:         10                                       6                                             5
BN:                      116                                    33                                           28

Smashwords:       52                                    25                                           42

Total:                   872                                1675                                       1630

Free downloads: 77                                    30           37,762 (US); 1,120 (UK); 105 (Eu)

Estimated Total e-books sold: 4,177

Taking into account the difficult to decipher reports from Smashwords (which includes e-books sold through Kobo, Sony, Apple et al), and if you include hardcopy sales through Createspace, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve hit the 5,000 books sold mark. Last January when I set my goals for 2012, I stated that I wanted to sell 10,000 books in a year (looking to break into that 10K cake club my indie buddies talk about). There is a possibility I could actually meet that goal if Waning Moon takes off, but even if I don’t hit 10,000 by January, I know I’ll reach it at some point soon. I’m halfway there, right? I see the slow, steady build of readership and sales, and have faith that with diligence, numbers will continue to grow as I reach new readers. 

I’ve learned a lot in this past year—lessons I will take forward with me as I continue on this journey. In no particular order, these are my top five lessons learned this year as an Indie published author.

1) Hire help with cover art, editing, and promotion/marketing. 

2) The buying patterns of readers are changing with the wind. There will be seasonal slumps and missed opportunities. The only thing you CAN control is the quality of your content. (Three nuggets in one).

3) Basically there aren’t enough hours in a day to do all we SHOULD do, so do what you can and let the rest go. 

4) Watching trends, getting involved in networks, and creating a platform in some form of social media makes for invaluable resources. Appreciate those resources.

5) Keep writing and creating new material.

As for observations, the summer months were extremely slow all around. It’s important to note, here, that I had flipped my promotional efforts to 20% of my budgeted time, and spent 80% writing/revising/producing the book instead of the other way around. Sales dropped by 75% in June, July and August. This tells me that clearly, promotion works. But the best advice I’ve gotten from Indie published authors is to work on growing your cyber bookshelf. Most successful self-pubbers hit their stride with book number six or seven, unless they are very luck and catch the wave the first time out. It’s all about creating quality backlist and gaining a readership through social media and visibility. That takes time and consistent effort. 

With the release of Waning Moon and the next month of blog tour visits (you can follow along and find my upcoming appearances at the calendar page of my website or click on the Goddess Fish icon below), I’ll be back in promotion mode while trying to maintain some of that ever elusive balance we writers struggle with. The coming year will be much less aggressive in terms of production, so I think that will help.

I want to add that I’m sharing these numbers only to encourage other writers (or some might say depress them, depending on their expectations). If I compared my numbers with others, I might be a bit underwhelmed –I still can’t look at my hourly rate without cringing. But I also recognize that there are many Indie authors not selling nearly what I did, so I don’t compare. I’m simply grateful to be where I am…satisfied that I am on the right track.

Unlocked secret: We all measure success differently, take our own path to find our bliss, and set our own goals. To set goals, understand what you want and carve out a path to get you there. Just remember; keep your goals realistic, manageable, flexible, and measurable. They are after all, just a guideline.

How did you all do with your goals this year? Do you set ‘em and forget ‘em like the rotisserie? Or are you dogmatically holding onto them and not willing to be flexible? Have you found the balance with goal setting that allows you to reassess often and adjust as needed? I’d love to hear from you!

Give a Hoot!

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here! I hope you’ve had a great week.

One quick announcement – The Undead Space Initiative is on sale now! Thanks to everyone who purchased copies. I appreciate it!

I’m always looking for new ways to use my time more efficiently. I recently signed up for the free version of Hootsuite (thank you Jennifer Fusco for the tip). Now, I received this information a while ago from Madame Fusco, but I was reluctant to sign up for YET another social media tool. I’d tried Tweetdeck and was completely underwhelmed and gave up using it.

With another book release looming in my future (and a huge bout of indecision about promotion), and feeling disorganized and out of control, I did what I always do  -  step back, assess, and organize.

My solution: give Hootsuite a try. So I signed up for the free version and gave it a whirl. (And yes, I do love that little owl logo – see here for my admitted owl obsession).

After the initial set up (which took about two minutes because I had to create and document another new password), I was asked to choose the social networks I wanted to connect to. With the free version, I was limited to five. I had a tough decision to make because I also manage the Scribes’ Twitter and Facebook pages. And I belong to several Facebook groups too.

In the end I chose to use my own pages for the trial run. So I hooked up my Facebook profile, fan page, my Twitter account, and my WordPress blog. Once I did that Hootsuite presented all my information on a series of dedicated tabs and then asked me to choose the “streams” I wanted to view.

Basically that means – how much information do I want displayed? For example on Facebook, you can view wall posts, news feeds and events (to name a few). With Twitter, I can view lists, mentions, the twitter feed, and sent tweets.

The best thing about Hootsuite is scheduling messages. Hootsuite allows you to add photos, documents, and links. Then you can decide the date/time where you want them to appear (FB page, Twitter, your blog).

I have to say – it’s pretty sweet. With minimal effort, I can now schedule my tweets etc. for my weekly blog posts or announce my latest buy link therefore saving me time. If I were to upgrade to the full package ($9.99) a month, I could use their bulk scheduler, connect to an unlimtied number of social networks, and more.

Hootsuite has other free features like analytics that I have yet to explore, but I’m taking baby steps for now!

So far I’ve had a good experience with Hootsuite and I would recommend it for those of you who are time-strapped. Especially if you are on a blog tour or gearing up for your next promotion. The scheduling aspect is my favorite part.

Anyone else using Hootsuite? Any time-saving tips you want to share with the rest of us? And if not Hootsuite what other time-saving applications would you recommend?

The End of Select

I’ve come to the end of my ninety days of exclusivity with Amazon’s KDP Select program. That means that I’m now able to upload and distribute SAVAGE CINDERELLA on other sales channels, such as B&N,  Smashwords, and coming soon, Kobo. I thought I would give you my final analysis on my experience.

PROS:

1)      All sales on one distribution channel. Easier accounting and focused marketing plan.

2)      Cross promotion opportunities with other KDP Select participants.

3)      Five days to offer the book FREE in an effort to gain exposure and readership.

4)      Participation in the Prime Lending program (approximately $2 per borrow).

 

CONS:

1)      Narrows your readership to Kindle owners, and may alienate Nook or I-pad owners.

2)      Contributes to Amazon’s attempt to monopolize the e-reader market.

3)      Unable to post excerpts for advertising purposes.

 

MY RESULTS:

Sales for Savage Cinderella from March 15-June 10                       1,253

FREE Downloads                                                                              ~ 40,000

Borrows                                                                                                       247

These numbers do not reflect sales of my other titles, hardcopy sales, or foreign sales. I did notice that the numbers remained steady for both of my other titles on Kindle, but very few sales of HIFH or OTI were made on B&N or Smashwords, which has been my experience from the start. Prior to publishing SC with KDP Select, with two titles available, I had sold aproximately 1500 e-books from September to March, primarily on Amazon. So in three months of going with the Select program for only one title, I’d sold almost as many as in the prior six months. 

 Another benefit to the Select program is that Savage Cinderella made it onto the Kindle Top 100 FREE list twice during the ninety days, and has received thirty-one reviews, culminating in an average four star rating.

All in all, I’m very pleased with the outcome of my KDP Select experience. I’m not sure if I will do it again, only because I think it’s generally bad for the publishing industry for any one entity to have exclusive rights to our work, but I can’t deny the short term benefits are very enticing.

So what do you all think of KDP Select? How do feel about exclusivity in publishing?