Tag Archives: cross-promotion

Booklovers Buffet and the .99 cent Mega Sale

Last week I talked about FREE e-books, and we covered both the good news and the bad news. You can read here if you missed my take on how freebies have changed the landscape of book selling and author promotion. You can also get the scoop on how Amazon’s algorithms are changing to meet those market trends over at Nina Pierce’s blog that was posted just yesterday. Some folks are a bit nervous about what Amazon has up their sleeve next. The conglomerate seems to be masterfully diabolical about staying one step ahead of the curve.

Changes are happening very quickly in the publishing world and it’s tough to keep up, but I just  try to keep in mind, as I’ve said before, that my journey is all a grand experiment. I try a dash of this, a dollop of that, and hope to find the magical combinations that create the perfect recipe for success.

Sometimes you get lucky and hit the market just right, and other times, you put it all out there and find that you’ve missed the boat. What worked a few months ago will likely not work today. The trick seems to be staying fluid and riding whatever wave you happen to be on until the next one comes along.

To quote one of my favorite Disney sidekicks, Dory from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimmin’”.

I also live by the Marine Corp motto, “Adapt, improvise, and overcome.” I try to do one big promotional event per month and I’m taking opportunities as they come, choosing what I think will be the most effective way for me to move forward and build my readership. I recognize that it’s not just about making money, which means I’m willing to play with pricing to see if it helps with my overall growth and name recognition. 

I’d like to touch on another common cross-promotional tool that has been very successful over the past year or two for indie-pubbed authors—the .99 cent e-book. A year ago, this was the hottest promotional tool out there, and people were making best seller’s lists all over the place in response to those wildly successful sales.
Of course you have to sell a whole lot of books to make any money, but hitting the lists was worth the short term loss for the long term gain of leading readers to your door, especially if you have multiple titles.

 That .99 cent price point doesn’t have quite the same appeal now that there are so many free e-books available and there is a general attitude that cheap e-books may not be of the same quality as higher priced books. On the other hand, readers are having kittens over having to pay 9.99-12.99 for e-books that may, in fact, be more expensive than the print copies. It seems the sweet spot of pricing, according to Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, is 2.99-4.99.

Most readers are willing to take a chance on a new author if the book is for free, but if they are going to pay .99 cents, they would rather pay a few extra dollars to buy a quality read from a familiar author who has a few books available and has gained some recognition through a bunch of good reviews or by being on the top 100 list. I’m here to tell you folks that there are many awesome reads on those .99 cent shelves. Sometimes a bargain is just that, a bargain. If you are a reader, keep checking those .99 cent titles and I’ll bet you find some gems!

I am also still a huge advocate of cross-promotion (look for my guest post on the WG2E this Thursday.) I’ve been part of a few of these group promos and the experience is well worth the effort, whether you sell a ton of books or not. I’ve learned a lot about how to work in a large group, I’ve met some wonderfully tech savvy and innovative people, and I’ve found support among like-minded individuals who all have a common goal.

Nothing to sneeze at, I assure you. Best of all, it’s one more way to get great books into the hands of readers for a great price, as D.D. Scott likes to say.

So, beginning this Friday, June 8th, and continuing until June 22nd, a group of over one hundred and fifty authors from the Indie Romance Ink loop will put their books on sale for .99 cents. The Book Lover’s Buffet was first offered as a holiday promotion back in December. I didn’t make a lot of money on the sale, but I did make a best sellers list for the first time, and it gave me the  confidence boost I needed, to know that I could manage this Indie-pub gig.

When the invite came up to do it again, I jumped. It will be interesting to see how a .99 cent promotion goes with the current buzz claiming the wave has come and gone. My feeling is that I have nothing to lose, and that if I can help some other authors sell their books, reach a few new readers, and have some fun along the way, it’s worth another wild ride. Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted on results.

Bookmark this page so you can check back on Friday when the Book Lovers Buffet Vacation Getaway site goes live and you can browse the list of over 150 indie titles, all for .99 cents. Be sure to enter for your chance to win some great prizes.

How do you think the trends in e-book buying will evolve? Will readers shun .99 Cent e-books in favor of FREE and higher priced books? I’d love to hear your predictions.






Hopping with Authors in Bloom

Hey gang, PJ Sharon here on this second Tuesday in April. I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday weekend with lots of good food and time with family. After such a “hoppy” weekend, it seems only reasonable to suggest that April is the best time of year for a spring blog hop. For those of you who have only heard the term Blog Hop, and have wondered, ummm…what the heck is a blog hop? Well, I’m here to fill you in.

A blog hop is a way for many authors to join together to cross promote. Some dedicated and organized soul (thank you Dianne Venetta), sets up the main landing page with all of the instructions, rules, and links to all of the participating author’s blogs/websites. There is usually a grand prize, (Kindles, Nooks, and I-pads are popular), with a set of rules as to how to enter for the grand prize. For instance, the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop requires that entrants go to each of the participating author’s sites and “collect” phrases that add up to a complete story. If they collect all the phrases and go to the AIB landing page they can enter to win the grand prize.

Of course, as they stop at each participating site, they can also enter to win prizes from each author as well. I added this Authors in Bloom icon to my home page of my website with a link to my promotional blog where I’m giving away a prize pack that includes signed copies of my books, tee shirt, mug, pen, book marks, World Wildlife Fund water bottle, national Wildlife Fund tote and stuffed polar bear. In other words, SWAG. Since we are trying to draw in the largest crowd of our target audience, who are mostly Romance readers and adult YA readers, we added a favorite recipe (a yummy and super easy Sunny Delight pie) and/or a gardening tip (Manure tea, anyone?) for all of our readers.  As a way to increase my visibility and reach, I gave lots of opportunities to stack up entries by leaving a comment, “liking’ my FaceBook page, following me on Twitter, tweeting about the blog hop, or signing up for my mailing list. For each effort, I add another entry into the drawing for that person. Isn’t it great how everybody wins here?

The general idea is to give folks incentive for visiting each authors site. There are seventy-four authors participating for a ten day blog hop, so there are literally hundreds of prizes to be won and tons of wonderful recipes and gardening tips to be had. There’s lots of interactive fun and  a blog hop is a great way to connect to readers.

The cost to each author was $5.50 which we voluntarily pitched in to buy an e-reader. The winner will have a choice of which type they’d like. The grand prize also comes with a $25 Amazon gift card.

The idea is to get people to visit your website or blog, help you grow your reader base and spread the word via FB, Twitter, or signing up for your mailing list. I’ve hear that increasing your visibility and extending your sphere of influence are the keys to a good marketing plan and this way, you have a whole team of authors working on it together. EVERYBODY WINS! I’m excited to see what the results will be! I’ll keep you posted.

Any questions about Blog Hops?

Blog Burnout

Welcome to Tuesday, Scribe’s readers. PJ Sharon here. In today’s post, I’ll be asking and answering a few questions about blogging—now that I can say without exaggeration that I have ample experience. I’d also like to address a growing problem for authors and bloggers called “Blog Burnout.” For me, this inevitable outcome of overexposure to blogging is defined as the mental, emotional, and physical fatigue that comes from “chronic” blogging. The symptoms are:

 1) An inability to come up with a single new and unique idea if your life depended on it.

2) A mistaken assumption that your life does, indeed, depend on it.

3) And a burning desire to cut ties with FB, Twitter, and Blogger captchas (those squiggly, indecipherable, non-words that you have to enter to leave comments on Blogger sites). 

According to marketing experts, blogging is a surefire way to get your name out there, promote your work, and increase your sales. In theory, blogging is a way to reach potential new readers who will buy your book or shout to the world what a brilliant and interesting writer you are. It has become a standard practice for authors and has been met with varying results (mine of which I will share shortly).

Some of you who haven’t been around long or have been living with your head in a rabbit hole may ask, “What is a blog tour?” That’s when an author sets up “guest appearances” on other authors’ blog sites, review sites, or anywhere that may attract an author’s readership. Guest blogs can be pre-prepared interviews or a 500-800 word “on topic” type of post that might appeal to specific readers.

What are the requirements for a successful blog, you ask?  Blogs need to be interesting, entertaining, informative, and above all, fun. Always end with an engaging question to open the door for comments. Try maintaining that level of creative juice for twenty or thirty posts over a two or three month period of time, especially while maintaining your own personal blog or website, contributing to your regularly scheduled group blogs (known as grogs), and the other million and one tasks that authors are responsible for on a daily basis, and let’s see you keep your hair on.

 Call me naïve, but I was completely unprepared for the toll that this kind of focused promotional effort would have on me. Don’t get me wrong; it was a valuable experience in many ways, but there are thing that I will do differently next time. Let me explain.

I have met some wonderful authors along the way and have had a great time interacting with readers and giving away books. I’ve also learned a lot about writing. Working to a word count, writing concise and persuasive blogs that hopefully meet the above requirements (interesting, entertaining, informative and fun), and I’ve learned how to talk about myself, my books, and my process—skills that every writer needs to learn.

As for whether my blog tour was successful in helping me to sell books, the jury is still out. My sales stayed pretty steady throughout the tour. It didn’t seem to matter where I blogged or how often per week, I never saw a bump in sales in either direction. Would I have sold the same amount of books without doing any blog appearances? I’ll have to wait a few weeks to see what happens when the dust settles and I am less visible. I do have to get back to…um…finishing that next book, a task made much harder because of this sense that my creative mind has been a bit—shall we say—overtaxed.

My recommendations:

1)      Pace yourself. Although it’s important to be visible in order to gain attention for your work, you and all of the people who have graciously chosen to support you on your journey will be much happier and less saturated…hehem…stressed if you take it slow and steady. Do what’s comfortable and what makes sense to you as an author. Remember that writing your next book is your primary job.

2)      Choose wisely. Do your homework, or pay someone to do it for you. There are Blog Tour companies out there that will design a tour for you for as little as $20-$50. If you want to do it yourself, choose blogs that are specific to your readership and that have a solid following. It takes some research but it’s a worthwhile investment in your time. This is one thing I would do differently next time around. I may even hire a virtual assistant (a college student on summer break) to do this research for me. The reason this is essential information is that I think you are more likely to find readers at review sites than author blogs, and in order to sell books, you need to be focused on finding readers. Although authors are wonderful about hosting other authors, and supporting each other’s book sales, most of the views that author sites get are from other authors, not readers. Unless that author has a large fan following, you aren’t likely to gain a tremendous amount of sales or find the readership you want.

3)      Keep it short and sweet. I am the queen of lengthy posts, LOL (this one included). We writers are not known for our brevity. But effective blogging in this warp-speed world means getting the point across and making it count.

4)      Offer incentives. Offer free books, swag, signed copies or some other creative incentive for readers who take the time to leave a comment. Contests garner attention, but they require a little effort staying organized with your giveaways. Make sure you follow through. Also make sure you use your influence wisely. You may want to ask for “likes” or “tags” (see my post on why these are important), or you may use contests to gain Twitter and FB followers. Don’t ask for too much and make it worth their while, but don’t be afraid to ask. T Harv Ecker says, “People don’t have what they want, because they don’t know what they want.” Be clear about what you want from your blog tour and formulate a plan to get it. Stay focused on your goal for each post and “speak” to your target audience as best you can.

5)      Say thank you. Let’s face it; without readers, authors are nothing. And without this wonderful community of authors who are traveling this rocky road with us, we would all get nowhere. I am so grateful to all of the authors who graciously hosted me, bought the books, tweeted my posts, shared my tour sites on their FB pages, and took the time to leave comments. I appreciate you, your patience, and your support more than you know.

In conclusion, when you start to feel like you’re doing too much, asking too much, and getting sick of answering the question, “What inspired you to write?” it’s probably time for a break.

As for what’s next, my ongoing promotional experiment will be in the form of the “Authors in Bloom” Blog Hop and a couple of FREE days in April where SAVAGE CINDERELLA will be up for free in the KDP Select program. I’ll be at the RT Booklovers Convention in Chicago with Katy Lee and I’m hoping to recharge my battery while I’m there signing at the Expo. Ahhh, yes…and I’ll be writing the next book.

My “Visibility Experiment”

Every day since I began writing toward publication, I’ve sat down to my computer, rubbed my palms together in preparation, and stated the affirmation, “I am an excellent writer. I am a bestselling author.” That was six years ago when I was a decent writer with a lot to learn, and the idea of being a bestselling author seemed miles away. But I’m a firm believer in the power of affirmations. When I hit the Kindle top 100 list yesterday, I thought, Holy cow! I did it!

After a moment of grinning like a loon and jumping up and down, I came back to reality and looked at what that really meant and analyzed how it happened overnight.

As I mentioned last week, one of the key ingredients to achieving my goals is to create visibility. I spend a lot of time on Indie Romance Ink, a yahoo group where indie authors share ideas and information about all things indie. I also follow WG2E (Writer’s Guide to E-publishing) blog site where numbers are reported, analyzed and manipulated on a daily basis through creating a solid backlist of products and precise placement of advertising. D.D. Scott wrote an excellent blog on the importance of creating visibility and talked about bestseller lists and what they mean. View her blog here.

 I’ve been hearing for months about review sites, promotional opportunities, and what has worked for others. The candid communication and exchange of information on WG2E, IRI, WANA Minions and YARWA has been incredible–thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. So I decided to take what I’ve learned and do my own Visibility Experiment.

 Two of the promotional opportunities that are frequently mentioned are Pixel Of Ink and Kindle Nation Daily. Both are paid advertisements, but have reportedly garnered excellent results for many authors. When I finally decided to pay for the Pixel Of Ink spotlight ($119 for a one day ad), I knew I was taking a leap of faith. I had lowered the price of Heaven Is For Heroes to .99 cents and figured that I would have to sell 340 books to recoup the cost of the ad. I had no epectation that this might actually happen, but I was hopeful. I was also taking into account the long term effects of this kind of visibility and how the added exposure would fit into my overall marketing plan for the next month during my release of ON THIN ICE. I decided the cost was worth it, even if I didn’t make back my cash investment right away.

When the ad went live at 2:00 Sunday afternoon and stayed up through 2:00 on Cyber Monday, I was blown away by my results. I didn’t sell enough in one day to pay for my ad, but I did sell 170 e-books in twenty-four hours, which propelled me to #68 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Romance > Contemporary. Technically, being in the top 100 on any list puts me in the bestseller category, but THE top 100 in the Kindle paid store is a bit tougher to achieve. I would need to sell about 300 books in a day to get there, and staying there is the real trick. After the Pixel Of Ink ad came down today, sales went back to just above their normal trickle and my overall ranking in the Kindle paid store rapidly dropped from #638 to #1,219—still nothing to sneeze at in the bigger pool of 750,000 e-books. Was a day on the best seller list worth the $119 investment? You bet! Heaven Is For Heroes was viewed by about 80, 000 readers. That kind of visibility is bound to create momentum for my next book. I’ll be saving my pennies for a Kindle Nation Daily ad (about $199) in the near future and I’m not stopping there. I have a blog tour scheduled, (My first appearance is today at http://clovercheryl.blogspot.com/ where you can meet my main character, Penny from On Thin Ice). Beginning December 4th, I’ll be participating in a Blog Hop with several other authors, and I’m part of a Book Lovers Buffet .99 e-book blowout–all scheduled for December.

To further create visibility, I’m taking yet another page from Jennifer Fusco, Market Or Die guru, and working with other authors to cross promote. Starting this Friday, I’ll be giving up my personal blog through my Blogger site and joining four awesome indie YA authors at www.yabeyond.com. We go live December 1st. I’m excited for the opportunity to blog every Friday about Healthy Teen Tips, while my new grog partners cover topics like music and movies, dating, love, school, and all things YA. Cool, huh? I’m hoping to reach out to my target audience and really start using my knowledge about health and fitness to make a difference in the lives of teens. No worries, I’ll still be here every Tuesday passing along writing and publishing secrets to all of you wonderful Scribes followers.

Everything is slowly falling into place and I owe so many thanks for help along the way, I wouldn’t know where to begin, but one thing I do know, is that setting goals is the first step to any good marketing plan and that believing in yourself is an essential ingredient in achieving your dreams. Here’s to getting on and staying on the Kindle Top 100 list.

Sharing your goals can help you by holding you accountable. It can also help others by motivating them and giving them ideas. As December knocks on your door, have you set any goals for the first quarter of 2012? Any ideas about increasing your visibility?