amazon kdp free promotions: have they stopped being effective?

From my point of view, yes. I did very well out of free promos in the past, boosting my ranking for weeks to come, (if not months), and selling a lot of books. However, I’ve seen the effectiveness of the free promo slowly peter out, with both older and new books. Gone, it seems, are the days of authors doing a free give-away and then hitting the best seller lists. I spent some time in the Kindle top 100, initially overall and then, for a longer period of time, within two or three categories after free promotions. Now I’m lucky to sell a handful of books after. And I’m not the only one: sales of self published eBooks – and indeed eBooks in general – seem to be down across the board.

I’m not absolutely sure why free promos don’t work as well now, and I’m sure there are authors who find them still to be effective. But here are  a few suggestions: Amazon seems to have changed the algorithms for ranking, so that your book no longer goes back on sale with its end of promo ranking, but instead appears to go back to where it was before the promo; publishers can and do sell their books for as little as 26p, (around 43c), but indie authors can’t reduce their books to less than 75p;  cut price books seem to have replaced free books from traditional publishers, so the top 100 free books are now of mixed quality (some are really good, others are dire – there is quite a variation with indie books); the market is now saturated with free and low price books, some of which are superb.

I have been loyal to Amazon and have tied myself to KDP Select since publishing my first book with them. This has meant that I’ve traded the right to publish across several platforms for the chance to boost sales and make money through the Amazon Prime lending program and free promos. However, I don’t think I’ll be renewing my affiliation to KDP Select when my current three months is up. Borrows don’t make me much money, since most of my readers seem to be British and Amazon Prime doesn’t seem to have taken off here. It’s time to have a look at what Apple iBooks can offer me.

The Aunt Sally Team: http://amzn.to/MgZRmW & http://amzn.to/LJvFhf

Aunt Sally & More: http://amzn.to/12fQSIy & http://amzn.to/Y5ZaTi

The Sacred Marriage: http://amzn.to/LhdwVm & http://amzn.to/Lr8JoY

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writing, lenormand cards and walking the dogs

It’s been quite some time since I added to this blog and this is a very short entry because my creative muscles are stiff with disuse.

Interesting dog walk this morning. It was misty down by the river and a heron flew over just as we turned onto the meadow. Then we saw one of the roe deer on the Eyot. Isha chased her half heartedly, but neither deer not hound seemed very fussed about the event. I haven’t seen the buck since spring, but the females are still around. It’s a lot colder today, but the sky is clearing, so hopefully it will warm up later. Then, on the side of a bus shelter on the way home, the following: You are more likely to be killed by a falling coconut than a shark. Well, that’s reassuring to know as I negotiate the banks of the Thames in Oxford…

Now to sit with a cup of coffee, brewed in my new stovetop coffee maker, and try to psyche myself into writing. I haven’t done anything new since early this year. I began a third Aunt Sally plus a kind of sequel to The Sacred Marriage (though more chick lit in style), but I stopped because I designed a set of Lenormand cards in April. They have since been published and are available here, if anyone wants to see them: https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/dream-inspires-lenormand   The Lenormand is an oracle that was popular in Napoleonic times and is now enjoying a huge revival. It comprises 36 cards with simple illustrations, such as fishes, house, bear, and is read in a very left-brain, factual manner – unlike tarot, which relies on layers of symbolism. After I’d completed the cards, school holidays arrived and I had to relinquish my computer to a nine-year-old four days a week. But I have my space back now and have a book to write on the Druid year: this one isn’t indie, it’s for a publisher, the first traditionally published book I’ve written for a decade.

So…I’m excited about getting down to work again, but a huge part of me is steeped in lethargy and would rather read or surf the Internet. I’ll probably be interrupted anyway: the police want to come round and take a statement from me, as I witnessed the tail end of a violent incident in the street a few weeks ago. Time for another cup of coffee I think!

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02/09/2013 · 08:17

a very british blog tour 2013

jack

I’ve been invited by fellow Very British writer  Alice Huskisson to answer some Very British questions. You can find her blog entry here: http://www.themaninahaystack.com/#/newsblog/4568893650

A VERY BRITISH BLOG TOUR 2013  is a collection of blogs, books and authors who are surprisingly very British. Paul Anthony http://paulanthonys.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/a-very-britsh-blog.html is the original host and invites you to take part in ‘A Very British Blog’ by visiting and supporting the websites of authors involved in the tour and who are dedicated to turning out some of the finest books available in Britain today.

Each author named at the bottom of the page has been asked the same questions but the answers will obviously all be different. 

By the way, we British have certain conventions, traditions, and procedures that are expected. There is a dress code in the reading of this British blog and you are expected to comply with it.

For example…

Gentlemen will wear suits, white shirts and dark ties. (Military ties are expected wherever possible). Ladies will wear dresses (one inch above the knee, no higher, no lower) and floral summer hats. A break for tea and cucumber sandwiches is expected at some stage and is permissible. (I’d like to make the point here that I personally detest cucumber and never wear dresses, but never mind, I’m sure you get the general picture!). Now then, let us proceed in an orderly fashion. As you know, we are all very boring and staid in Britain, aren’t we?

Well, there’s a myth about the British and your starter for ten Stuffy, class conscious, boring, staid! But is this still relevant in today’s world? Let’s find out from our wonderful writers what they feel about it.

 So, without further ado, here my answers:

Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?

A. 

I was born in Stanmore, which is now part of Greater London. I live in Oxford, by choice because I love it.

Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?

A. I grew up as an air force child and have travelled widely, so, no, I haven’t always lived and worked in Britain. In fact I both lived and worked in Brittany, France in the late 1980s. However, I’ve been settled in Oxford and based my work life there on and off for many years.

Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?

A. I can’t pin myself down to liking one particular part of Britain. I love Scotland and Wales, the Peak District, the West Country, Kent, as well as towns and cities such as Oxford and Canterbury. Britain is beautiful and varied and I love it all really.

Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?

A. Ah, yes, all my published books, including the pagan ones I wrote in the 2000s for the American publisher Llewellyn, center around Oxford and the Cotswolds. My Aunt Sally novels are very much based in the Oxford area and my other novel, The Sacred Marriage, is set in Brittany and Oxford.

Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish – about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?

A. I think we do tend to be more restrained sometimes than, say, the Latin races (who are able to show how they feel without fear of ridicule); but I don’t support the stereotypical view of the stiff lipped Brit and we are certainly passionate enough when you scratch the surface of our supposed reserve.

Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?

A. Dante Blackthorn, one of the main characters in the Aunt Sally series (The Aunt Sally Team, Aunt Sally & More and the third in the series, being written now, After Aunt Sally) has been to public school and had a very strict, loveless upbringing, so he appears to have a stiff upper lip; but he’s also an alcoholic and so has been known to be subject to passionate emotions and furious rages. The other characters handle emotion in various ways, none of them being ‘typical’. 

Q. Tell us about one of your recent books

A. The Aunt Sally Team is about a group of disparate people who come together to play a traditional English pub game. The book is written in a soap opera style, switching from character to character as it follows their lives and interactions. It none-the-less tackles serious issues such as racial prejudice, alcoholism and teenage sexuality.

Q. What are you currently working on?

A. I have two books on the go at present: one is the third in the Aunt Sally series and the other is a kind of sequel to The Sacred Marriage, but written in a way that verges on chicklit.



Q. How do you spend your leisure time?

A. I have two dogs, a Saluki lurcher and a border collie/Arctic mix, and walking them takes up some time. We usually go down to the river, to an area called Aston’s Eyot (which features prominently in my books), which is a nature reserve with deer, kites, buzzards and all manner of other wildlife. I also spend a lot of time reading, being a total readaholic. I enjoy trips into Oxford city centre as well – Oxford is a truly beautiful city and I never tire of walking round it.

Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?

A. I aim my books at both, but I do find Britsh people particularly identify with my style of writing (which can be quite tongue in cheek) and in the settings.

Q. Can you provide links to your work?

A.Of course. All links are the UK Amazon first and US second:

The Aunt Sally Team: http://amzn.to/MgZRmW & http://amzn.to/LJvFhf

Aunt Sally & More: http://amzn.to/12fQSIy & http://amzn.to/Y5ZaTi

The Sacred Marriage: http://amzn.to/LhdwVm & http://amzn.to/Lr8JoY

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheAuntSallyTeam

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AUNT SALLY & MORE due out on Amazon this December

Cover image by Beccy Blake: http://beccyblake.com/

Here is the blurb for Aunt Sally & More, sequel to The Aunt Sally Team (http://amzn.to/MgZRmW http://amzn.to/LJvFhf): 

Find out what happens to the Aunt Sally team. A year on and it’s still going strong, but the lives of some of its members, past and present, seem to be in upheaval.

Dante is out of rehab, wanting Diana to give him another chance. But she finds that giving up drink is only the beginning of a long, rocky road for an alcoholic. His daughter Lucy fears abandonment and wants her dad to herself, and his old flame Lou has inveigled her way into his thoughts again. Can Dante and Diana’s love survive the trials and pitfalls as he fights his addictions and gets his emotions in balance?

Beth is drawn into the world of fashion, with all its glamour and dangers. She’s divided between her love for Zac, who’s back for the summer, and Harvey, who gives her the break she needs but seems to have a hidden agenda. The only person she can be sure of is pagan musician Humphrey, who’s like an older brother to her. In the end, torn between the two sides of her nature, she questions who she is and her health and sanity are threatened.

Harry wants to leave Oxford and go away to uni. Can Lucy trust him or will he desert her like her dad did? After all, there will be loads of new girls to tempt him. When she runs into Zac then meets a handsome stranger on a train, things get more complicated than ever.

Lissa and Rashi return to Oxford from Sheffield with baby Ravi and move into the George and Dragon, home of the Aunt Sally team. Liss wants to make a go of it, but her Indian in-laws don’t want their son to have an English wife. The pressure on her marriage mounts till she wonders if she and Rashi can survive.

Jason and Rose are deeply in love but don’t have anywhere to be together. When things start to resolve, they take on Tyson, a puppy with a dodgy past and an uncertain future.

And Vera is determined to keep her friendship with Jim under control and on an even keel.

Sex, drugs and fashion modelling; Druids at the Neolithic Rollright Stone Circle; mushroom picking in the autumn woods; a gypsy-like existence aboard traditional canal boats on the river; old loves and new; all the ups and downs of relationships under pressure – Aunt Sally & More explores some of life’s deeper issues…but there’s still romance and wonder in the world, and Oxford and its surroundings are as beautiful as ever.

 

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dementia, a remarkable book & more

Today I want to showcase a book by a fellow author, Doreen ‘Dody’ Cox, Adventures in Mother-Sitting: http://amzn.to/RQo8kn UK, http://amzn.to/Qn08by US

Dody is one of my beta readers for Aunt Sally & More, the sequel to my book The Aunt Sally Team, and I got to know her via Twitter and Facebook. The reason I’m featuring the book is because it’s free at the moment and I think everyone should have a chance to download it. Dementia affects us all sooner or later, whether personally or through the media. If you read Terry Pratchett’s books, you will probably have been moved by finding he has Alzheimer’s and touched by his tireless work in raising public awareness about the deterioration of the mind it causes.  Dody’s book is remarkable as it plots the course of her mother’s deterioration and her own growth as she finds resources within herself to carry on coping and loving. Below is my Amazon review of the book, but don’t take my word for it; take a look.

This book is about the journey two brave, wonderful women make. One treads the path of self realisation and spiritual insight via her role as carer for her elderly mother: the other journeys through dementia to death. The voyage is one of learning, humility, dignity and above all love. These central characters are held and sustained by a network of compassionate supporters – both close family and the health care workers, nurses and doctors involved as well as people chance met along the way. The tale unfolds in an almost Zen like manner, showing how suffering, grief and frustration can evolve into peace, insight and the love and equanimity that help us rise above the hardships and sorrows of the human condition.

Dementia touches all our lives, whether through people close to us, through our own mental deterioration as we grow older or through the wider context of society. I would recommend this beautiful book as reading for anyone closely involved with the experience of dementia or caring for the elderly, but also, perhaps, as a tool of understanding and realisation for anyone.

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relationships, editing one novel and writing another, plus some good indie reads

Mic, the love of my life, just before he got his hair cut…

A love relationship is a marvellous thing, but sometimes it can be stressful too. Every relationship we have, whether with partners, children, friends or family, teaches us more about life and helps us to grow. I know that sounds trite and New Agey but it’s also true. Whatever we need to confront in ourselves, you can be sure that a relationship will force us to meet it head on. And yet relating brings joy and deep contentment too. It’s like the extremes of weather that lead to growth and blossoming. Of course, relationships provide endless veins of rich material for writers. Though it would be a mistake to assume that any one character or set of circumstances translates directly into one’s latest novel. It’s more that all the experiences we have of our encounters with other people, and what we observe of people in general, seem to mulch down into a rich compost that feeds the creative process.

Talking of the creative process, Aunt Sally & More, the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team (http://amzn.to/MgZRmW  & http://amzn.to/LJvFhf is now finished and edited and is out with beta readers. Beccy Blake (http://beccyblake.com/) has already sent me a rough for the cover, so we are on target for publication in December. Meeting fellow authors whose writing I admire, and whom I trust to review my work and make suggestions/pick up mistakes etc. prior to publication, has been one of the bonuses to come out of using Twitter.

I’m now also 10,000 words into writing a new novel, Angel in Between, which is linked to my novel The Sacred Marriage (http://amzn.to/LhdwVm & http://amzn.to/LJvFhf) but is far more like chick lit. I’m really, really enjoying writing it. My only regret is that it leaves me little time to read the many excellent books by fellow indie authors, as well as traditionally published books, that I have piling up in my library. Some good ones I have managed to get round to are: The Chapel in the Woods by Susan Louineau, Tollesbury Time Forever by Stuart Ayris, Death in Spigg’s Wood by Linda Gruchy and The Blake Curse by I.C. Camilleri - I’m still reading the last one…

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autumn, dogs & new writing

Autumn has properly arrived at last, really late, and there are beautiful patterns everywhere, formed by colourful fallen leaves. It’s also waterlogged wherever we take the dogs. Both of them are coming home soaked after their run each day.

As for me, I’ve finished writing Aunt Sally & More, the sequel to my bestselling novel The Aunt Sally Team and have spent days on revisions and edits. Now it’s out with people who are beta reading it. That’s one of the wonderful things that has come out of being part of the community of readers and authors on Twitter: I have new friends who are also writers and can swap reading and commenting. I’ve also begun another new book, linked to my novel The Sacred Marriage. Meanwhile, I’m hoping Aunt Sally & More will be ready to publish on Amazon KDP in December – I’m just waiting for Beccy Blake to do the cover.

Phew, it’s been a busy few weeks and set to continue…

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