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This was supposed to be a 3-part series, but as I try different book marketing experiments, it has morphed into something a bit longer – mostly because I keep adding updates as results come in. If you have yet to read the earlier posts in this series, you can click on any one here:

A few days ago, I posted about a book promo I put on Free Kindle Books & Tips, a book promo site run by Michael Gallagher. My promo took place on Super Bowl Sunday, which may or may not have impacted sales. Still, I sold enough books to cover costs and to make a small profit. Even better, the book sales were enough to propel my novel, The Stages of Grace, to Amazon #1 Best Seller status in one of its categories, #4 in another and #53 in the huge category/genre Women’s Fiction. Not bad.

Yesterday, I ran a promo on the same site for my other novel, Water from Stone. Like the first promo, things started off slowly. This, I think, is mostly because the site runs on Central Time and I was anxiously awaiting results in Eastern Time.Meaning, for the chronologically challenged, I was up early on the East Coast waiting for Michael to wake up and post somewhere in the Midwest.

As before, I noted my month-to-date sales, my author rank, my book’s ranking, anything I could use as a beginning point for my experiment. By 11:00 am ET, only 2 books had sold. But then, the FK Books & Tips site clearly explains that the first postings would not go out until 9 a.m. Central Time.

By 2 pm ET, I’d sold 6 books. Those, of course, could simply have been a matter of business as usual. I sell a number of books every day so there is a bit of cross-over.

By 4:30, I’d sold 39 books.

By 7 pm, 66 books had sold.

And then, sometime around 10:30 pm Eastern Time, magic. Not in sales (though they were growing, but I’d forgotten to write them down), but in rank. My book, Water from Stone, kicked my other novel, The Stages of Grace, out of 1st Place as an Amazon Best Seller in one of its genres.

As of this morning, less than 24 hours after my promo began, I had sold 156 copies of Water from Stone. AND, as of this morning, the book had hit the #1 Best Seller spot in not just one, but in two of its categories.

You could say that I am having a very good day.

As usual, I will continue posting about my book marketing experiments. In my next post, I’ll share my 3rd strategy that really works. Until then, you really should buy my book, “Author! Author! Use Book Promos & Discounts to Create Buzz for Your Book.” In it, I detail the exact methods I used for this book promotion.

Number 1 feb 6 2014 twice E

Number 1 and Number 4 Best sellers

 

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Before moving on to the third book marketing method I’ve tried and that I have had success with, I want to update you on the latest results of my second strategy – using book promos and discounts.If you’ve been following this blog or have read my last post, you know I chose three (of the 140+) websites from my book, Author! Author! Use Book Promos & Discounts to Create Buzz for your Book to promote my two novels on.

Right off the bat, BookBub turned my novels down. When I submitted to them, I still did not have the minimum number of stars they require for approval. I next tried Ereader News Today and had great success with one of my novels, Water from Stone. In fact, that book hit as low as #3 in at least one of its categories. I sold well over 200 books through the site in 24 hours and sales have continued (though tapered off somewhat) since. And, just to note again, the people who run the site were wonderful to work with. I am looking forward to submitting my newest novel, The Stages of Grace.

My Experiment with Free Kindle Books & Tips – Things I Liked

Please note: lest you wonder, Free Kindle Books & Tips accepts both free and paid-for books. The name was chosen (I believe) prior to Amazon’s March 2013 crack-down on sites that only promoted freebies. When that changed and the site began promoting discounted books as well, the choice was made to keep the name as it had already earned a reputation. Again, I could be making up that rationale. Michael (Gallagher), please correct me if I am wrong.

A couple of days ago, I tried a third site, Free Kindle Books & Tips, run by Michael Gallagher. There were a couple of things I liked right off the bat about FK Books & Tips, but also a number of things I though, Hmmmmm, about. The good news was that Michael was very responsive to both my regular submission and to a follow-up email question. I have worked with a number of sites that take days to respond to questions, if ever. Michael responded to my question – and what turned out to be subsequent follow-up questions – the same day. A second thing I liked was that Michael allowed me to place my promos several months out. Personally, I hate having to re-submit so this saved me time and hassle. A third thing I liked was that Michael strategized with me. I wanted to run back-to-back promos, and he suggested that I would quickly reach burn out. Instead, he recommended 30-day windows between promos. I took his advice and, well, we’ll see.

Oh, and I liked the price – just $25 for a regular submission. That means that selling just 72 books at $0.99 recoups your investment. (72 x .35 = $25.20)

My Experiment with Free Kindle Books & Tips – Things I was Skeptical About

I didn’t like that FK Books & Tips offers only an estimate of the number of subscribers they send email promos to. I believe the estimate is 10,000. That might sound like a lot, but because the site doesn’t specify the preferred genres of those readers, it left me wondering if my contemporary fiction was going to be promoted to paranormal-loving readers.

A second point that left me a bit skeptical was that I have been following FK Books & Tips for some time now and I have noticed that the site promotes a lot of books that have that sketchy “homemade” cover look to them. I don’t mean to be a book cover snob, but, well… OK, I’m a book cover snob. Because I participate in a fair number of book exchanges, I know that a homemade cover often means a poorly-edited book. If an author is going to be tight-fisted about the book’s main presentation, it is pretty much a given that he/she hasn’t bothered to have the manuscript properly edited. I know, I know, that’s my own bias, but a bias that is hard-earned.

And, for the record, The Stages of Grace is meant to have a cartoon on the cover. The main character is a cartoonist and the cartoon character… well, it’s important to the book.

Yeesh. Apparently, I have not had enough caffeine this morning.

So, back to my experiment with Free Kindle Books & Tips…

Further to the second thing I was skeptical about (the home-made covers), was that FK Books & Tips does not require that books submitted to it for promotion have a minimum number of stars or reviews. Now, on the one hand, I don’t like star and review minimum requirements because I know so many of them are bogus. As someone who refuses to solicit bogus reviews and stars, I resent that something bogus would be the basis for submission to a promo site. On the other hand, now that my books have earned a fair number of legitimate reviews and stars, I understand how a greater number of stars and reviews translates into more sales. Because promo sites make a lot of money off of book sales, it only makes sense that they would want to limit themselves to books that have already proven themselves.

Because FK Books & Tips does not have a star or review requirement, I wondered if their only source of income was in selling promo space to authors. If that was the case – if the site was not also hoping to make money off of sales through the links in it promotions – then the submission fee would probably be a loss. Why? Because I want sales. I don’t want someone to simply take my money, post a spot on some sketchy blog and then call it a day. I want someone to take my money, post my book on an active site, send it to a large number of greedy book readers, make a ton of sales and then, and only then, call it a day.

The third thing that left me skeptical about FK Books & Tips was that the site doesn’t add much to its promos. Basically, it sends out an email that says, “Here is what Amazon’s book description says about the book…”

OK, what was I expecting? I mean, really, all any site does is include the description from Amazon. That’s a given. I mean, there is no way anyone could read the 10+ books featured each day and offer a review. It’s just, well, FK Books & Tips was so obvious about cutting and pasting and that, well… I guess I would have preferred them to be a little more discreet.

And, finally, my last concern with FK Books & Tips was that my first promo was due to appear on a Sunday. Now, please understand that I ASKED for the “first available” spot – and I got what I asked for so this is entirely on me. I guess I wanted first available, but I also wanted sometime toward the end of the week when (to my mind) readers would be thinking about curling up with a good book over the weekend. But, Sunday was first available and I was grateful to get it – especially because I consoled myself with the idea that at worst it would give me data for a blog post.

So, by now you’re probably wondering whether my FK Books & Tips experiment was worth it or not. Before I answer that, here’s a brief recap:

Likes:

  1. Responsiveness to questions
  2. Michael strategized with me
  3. Took long-term orders up front
  4. Price – I’d only need to sell 72 books to break even

Not necessarily dislikes, but things that made me skeptical:

  1. Not enough detail on subscribers/readers
  2. Promotes unprofessional-looking (to my eye) books
  3. Does not have a minimum number of stars or reviews requirement
  4. Starts each post with, “The Amazon description for the book says…” (or something very similar)
  5. I was worried about a promo on Sunday

My Experiment with Free Kindle Books & Tips – The Results

Something I hadn’t really thought about prior to this experiment was the date it was taking place on. You see, my book was due for promotion on the 2nd of February. This turned out to be a good thing as Amazon (the site I was tracking) starts fresh each month. So, one month, your sales can hit 1,000, but on the first of the month they drop back down to 0. Because my promo was on the 2nd, I was starting with a low sales number and could easily track new sales. And yes, I know, simple math would give me the numbers no matter how many sales I began with, but, well, this somehow made it easier.

I checked sales on Saturday night – the night before the promo ran – and they were negligible. Water from Stone was doing quite well, but that novel had been gaining traction already. I had not yet formally promoted The Stages of Grace (other than through Goodreads) yet, and so I was not surprised by the low numbers.

On Sunday morning, I checked Amazon sales for The Stages of Grace and was very disappointed to see that only a few overnight sales had been made. I was not totally disappointed by having purchased a one-day promo on FK Books & Tips, so much as disappointed that I had booked promos for the next three months. But then I went back to the site and realized that they work on Central Time and I am in Eastern. My book had not yet been promoted.

I gave it several hours and again checked the results. Sales for The Stages of Grace were picking up, with about 2o sales in the first hour after FK Books & Tips email went out to subscribers. I continued to check numbers throughout the day and evening and enjoyed watching the number grow. Of course, it was not all due to the promotion as the book garnered a handful of sales on its own every day, but I had to give credit to the site for the sudden spike.

I confess, I watched the Super Bowl that night and then went to bed without checking my final numbers. I did, however, wake up around 1:30 in the morning and decided to put in a few hours of work. When I checked the site, sales for The Stages of Grace had reached 78. That made me happy, if only because my promo costs were now covered and any new sales that came from the site were profit. By the next morning, 24 hours after the promo began, I had sold 84 Kindle copies of the book.

But that’s not all.

When I think about success, I am not only looking for sales. Really. Because I have discounted the book while I try out these various promo sites, I only make $0.35 every time a book is sold. After factoring in the cost of the promotion, I only made $4.20. Nope, that wasn’t the high point.

The high point was that the increased sales, added to the sales the book gets on a normal day, boosted it enough to make it an Amazon #1 Best Seller in one of its categories! Look at the image at the top of this post to see its little #1 flag. Not only that, but it boosted the book’s numbers in other categories as well. Long-term, I can get a lot more mileage out of my book being a #1 Amazon Best Seller than I can out of netting $4.20.

OK. all that being said, I have to say this experiment was a success. If you look only at dollar figures, you might not think so. I look at the entire impact a promo has, including money earned, but also improvements in rank and whether my book makes it into the top 100 Paid sales.

For the record, I also have to point out that my promo ran on Super Bowl Sunday. This Super Bowl had the highest ratings ever for any TV show watched. That means that my promo had some pretty fierce competition. For that reason, I am going to see how my next FK Books & Tips promo goes before I let myself come to any conclusions. Happily, that promo is tomorrow – Wednesday, February 3rd – for Water from Stone. I will let you know how it goes.

Read more here:

See more results here:

 

Number 1 Bestseller Feb 3 2014 D

Number 1 Bestseller Feb 3 2014

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For me, a lot of 2013 was spent trying out new book marketing methods and, when they worked, writing about them. One of those methods is the focus of today’s blog post, Part 2 of 3 of my Book Marketing & Promotion series about my (so far) three favorite ways to promote books.

In Part 1 of the series, I shared my Goodreads experiment where I began to form one-on-one relationships with readers and with people who entered my various Goodreads Giveaways. This is a powerful method, though one that takes quite a bit of time and commitment as you are dealing with one person at a time.

Today, I’m going to share some information from one of my Author! Author! books. For those who don’t know, I have a gradually expanding series of books directed at writers. One of those books is Author! Author! Use Book Promos & Discounts to Create Buzz for Your Book. In it, I explain how to make use of more than 140 free and low-cost discounts to promote your book. These are sites that are directed at readers (not writers). Readers sign up to learn about free and discounted eBooks and to share information about books in genres they like to read.

While that book was released some time over the summer, later in the year I released the first two of my novels, Water from Stone in October and The Stages of Grace in November. With those two books I was able to begin testing my marketing methods on fiction, not just on the non-fiction I had been testing before.

How I Chose 3 Book Promo Sites for My Experiment

I began my experiment with three of the 140+ sites detailed in my book in mind: Book Bub, eReader News Today, and Kindle Books & Tips.

You might wonder why I chose these and if, by choosing them I think they are the “best” and that they are where you should concentrate your marketing efforts and budget. The short answer is no, no and no. I won’t personally know which are “best” until I have tried them all, which I am attempting to do. Further, while one site might be “best” for my books, they won’t necessarily be so for yours. It really depends on a number of factors including your book’s genre and the readership of the various sites. If you write science fiction and a certain site focuses on literary fiction, the match will probably fail.

No, I chose those three sites mostly at random. The part of the decision that wasn’t random was based on the way each charges for its service of promoting books to their readership.

Book Bub is one of the more expensive book marketing sites listed in my own book. It charges anywhere from $40 to upwards of a couple of hundred to promote your book for one day. The sliding payment scale is in place because they have more readers/subscribers in some genre over others. The bigger the list, the more they charge. Sounds pretty fair to me.

eReader News Today charges on a percentage basis. You can list your book for free but, after your 24-hour promotion period is over, you will owe 25% of sales made through the ENT (eReader News Today) site links to the site owners. Because you lower your book’s sale price to $0.99 the day of the promotion, you owe about $0.25 to ENT every time they sell one of your books.

Free Kindle Books & Tips charges a flat fee to promote your book to its readership/subscribers. The charge is $25.00 per spot. This means that you will have to sell about 72 eBooks at $0.99 to break even. Oh, and just for clarity, your book does not have to be free.

Each of these sites has different rules about which books can enter. They may require a minimum number of reviews or a minimum number of starred reviews. They each also offer a variety of marketing options such as featured spots or different prices based upon the sales price of the books.

The Results – so far – of My Book Promo Site Experiment

So far, my novels have not been accepted by Book Bub. Why? I suspect it is because they were so new when I entered them that they barely met the minimum review/star requirements. Book Bub is a very active site (I include each site’s Alexa rank in my book) and they make more money with “proven” books than with new ones. How? You might think that your $40 placement is just as good as the $40 an author of a book with hundreds of reviews and many stars. Well, you’d be partially right. You have to understand that when Book Bub – and most of the other sites listed in my book – promotes your book, it does so through its Amazon (or B&N, Sony, etc.) affiliate links. What this means is that Book Bub earns an extra 4% + every time someone purchases through one of their links.  That’s $0.04 extra per book. For every 100 books sold, they earn another $4.00. If they promote 5 (hypothetically) books per day per genre, that’s another $20.00. And then, they promote around 15 different genres to 15 different audiences, so that is an additional $300.00 per day, or $109,500.00 per year. It is important, then, that they promote books that have a higher chance of making sales than those that are just starting out. One way to know if a book is going to sell well in the future is to see how it has done in the past.

I am going to keep submitting my books to Book Bub because I am very interested in learning if their higher-than-average price structure is worth it. I’ll keep you posted.

My book, Water from Stone, was accepted by eReader News Today. Actually, by the time it was accepted, I had forgotten that I’d entered it. Even though less than a week had passed. It was a busy week.

I received a confirmation email from ENT that my book would appear on their site the following week. As I said, it was a VERY busy week and I forgot to write it in my agenda. That means that I forgot to check my month-to-date sales the night before so I’d have a general idea how effective ENT’s promotion was. Because I’d forgotten, when I logged into my Kindle account the following day and saw how many sales I was making and how quickly, I was fully surprised. All day long the sales continued to increase at a rate and volume I did not expect for such a newly-released book. by the end of the day, I’d sold several hundred books through ENT’s links. I consider this very successful as I did nothing else to promote my book on ENT. I know that if I’d remembered, I would have promoted the heck out of being featured and I would have enjoyed even more sales.

Besides the success of the promotion, I thoroughly enjoyed working with the people over at ENT. They were friendly, professional, helpful and thoughtful. As I told them the day after the promotion, theirs was a bill I was happy to pay. In fact, I wish I had had to pay more. Next time I use their service, I’ll promote the heck out of it and, hopefully, have an embarrassingly large bill.

I have scheduled both of my novels to appear on Free Kindle Books & Tips various social media sites. The charge per appearance is $25.00. While it may have been prudent to schedule one showing per book, I went ahead and arranged for 3 showings per book spread out a month apart each. This Sunday, February 2, Water from Stone will appear for the first time on the sites. The following week, The Stages of Grace will appear. And then each will make an appearance about 30 days thereafter.

I decided to make this commitment to the Free Kindle Books & Tips because I am curious about a couple of things. First of all, I want to know if the ROI (return on investment) is decent. At $25 a showing, I’ll have to sell 72 books to cover my costs. I’m fairly certain I’ll hit at least those numbers. Everything else will be profit. But, I am also wondering if making multiple appearances before the same audience will have an effect. You’ve probably heard that someone has to see something about 7 times before they are actually aware of it. Or something like that. In any case, I’d like to see if multiple viewings affect sales. Of course, this is a highly unscientific experiment as there are so many other factors at play. Still, I like to experiment and I think $150.00, or $25.00 per book per month, is a small amount to invest in my career.

OK, so you’re probably wondering why I write that this is a marketing technique that really works if I can’t (at this moment) give you hard and fast numbers. Well, I’ve used this technique for a few of my non-fiction books and my sales numbers and volume always jumps on the days of promotion, and that momentum even plays out several days thereafter. But, in the interest of being thorough, I’ll be sure to post updates as I progress, and to let you know as I branch out to more promo sites. In fact, I’ll give you before and after numbers because this time around, the promos are in my agenda and I’ll be watching.

Oh, in case you want to start your own book promotion campaign, buy my book Author! Author! Use Book Promos & Discounts to Create Buzz for Your Book. More than 140 sites are included where you can promote your book for little or no cost.

And, remember, this is just part 2 of 3 parts. Stay tuned for my third highly successful method in my next blog post.

Read More Here:

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Marketing & Promotion – 3 Methods that Really Work – Part 1- Goodreads Giveaways & Messages

December 20, 2013
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As you know, book marketing & promotion can become a full-time job. There was a time when my approach was to spend a couple of days on marketing and promotion and then to move on to a new writing project. And then I wised up. The problem with throwing everything and the kitchen sink at […]

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Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer – the PERFECT Gift for a Writer

December 13, 2013

Have you ever seen something and immediately thought (or screamed – screaming is OK) MINE! MINE! MINE! My grad school friend, Mark Edwards (he of the really fun read Pirates of Dinosaur Island), tagged me in a Facebook post where he was talking about (bragging about) this book which he just received. I am hoping […]

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Paid Book Reviews – Are They Legit?

December 12, 2013
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I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about book reviews. Mostly because I entered a “book swap” (book review exchange) last month and have a few ideas about how it could have gone better for everyone involved. Not that I’m complaining – the woman who ran it was great and the participants were active […]

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The Stages of Grace – a Novel Has Its First Book Trailer

November 25, 2013

The Stages of Grace has been out for one week. So far, it has hit #5 and #15 in two of its Amazon browse categories. My goal is to get it to #1. I put together the first of several book trailers (videos) for The Stages of Grace. It took me awhile to figure out […]

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Shelfari Book Extras – How it Improves Your Amazon Book Detail Page

November 18, 2013
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OK, so it’s a bit incestuous, Amazon’s finger in every, um, (book) pot. There’s Amazon, CreateSpace, Audible, AuthorCentral, Goodreads, Shelfari… You get the point. You can’t do anything in the book industry these days without somehow involving Amazon. And, other than my beef with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select, that’s not a bad thing. Let’s […]

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The Stages of Grace – a Novel – Just Released – $0.99 for 1 Week Only

November 15, 2013
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My new novel, The Stages of Grace, was released today. In celebration, I am offering the Kindle and Nook eBook versions for $0.99 for one week. Not only that, but my first novel, Water from Stone, will also be available for just $0.99. Wondering what the novel is about? Here is my in-a-nutshell answer: Gracie […]

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If You’re an Author, You NEED to be on Goodreads

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With the release of my first novel, Water from Stone, I began to spend more time on Goodreads. For the handful of you who may not know about GR, it is a site where authors and readers interact. Readers go to Goodreads to find out about new books, to share recommendations, to reach out to […]

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