Tag Archives: eBooks

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

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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KDP Select free promo part 3, negative reviews, tags & categories & a little bit more dog news

As you will know if you’ve read my recent blog entries, I’ve done two previous KDP Select free promos and they’ve been wildly successful. They’ve boosted the visibility of The Aunt Sally Team (http://amzn.to/MgZRmW & http://amzn.to/LJvFhf), led to a huge bump in both sales and ranking that lasted several weeks after each promo, and gained me several lovely reviews in the UK, not to mention new readers. As sales had finally tailed off again, I decided to do another promo last week, running for three days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This one has gained me a lowly 39 sales post promo and one very nasty 1 star review (the other 22 reviews were 5 and 4 star) and one public announcement on Twitter, by a total stranger, informing me of her adverse view of my book – how kind of her to let me know along with the rest of the world! Why the other two promos were so successful and this one wasn’t, I have no idea. Perhaps it was timing, doing it at the end of the summer holidays, when people are back at work and school, or perhaps it was because it was timed to run over part of the weekend, which is supposed to be the optimum buying time.

Which brings me to negative reviews. Every writer gets them sooner or later, if they have their work publicly accessible, and indeed other authors say that they can be an almost inevitable consequence of letting your work be downloaded free (in which case, I was very lucky with my first two promos.)  If the review is constructive, then it can be taken on board, no matter how unpleasant it might be receiving it. However, many negative reviews are by people who clearly haven’t read a book and who are being inaccurate or spiteful for reasons of their own. There has been a lot in the news recently about sock puppets, other authors or publishers creating bogus personas to post destructive reviews of rival authors work; but to be honest, and without discounting this, there have always been bad reviews no matter the quality of the book concerned. You can’t please everybody and what appeals to one person will be anathema to another. You even get people slating a book because it wasn’t in a genre they would normally read, and the sense of that is very hard to comprehend.

But don’t let anyone tell you negative reviews don’t hurt. How can they not when you are making the products of personal creativity and hard work available to strangers? Not only that, but bad reviews are destructive in other ways.  I’m pretty sure that the reading public will discount one or two bad reviews amidst several good ones, but I’ve seen perfectly sound books where a 1 star review seems to have sparked several more in the same vein. I won’t review a book at all if I can’t give it at least 3 stars. I know what it’s like to rely on writing to make a living (no matter how small) and to want to please people with your writing, and I know how hurtful negative reviews can be, so I won’t do it to other people.

Leading on from this, it’s very important to pay attention to tags and categories when publishing onto Amazon and other eBook sites. Both these make it easier for readers to find your books, and the more apt the tags and categories, the better they will point to your work. I’ve shifted the categories on both my books. I’d listed one of the categories for The Aunt Sally Team as humour, as it’s written in a slightly tongue-in-cheek style and people who had read it said it made them laugh. But it isn’t out and out snort your coffee over your keyboard humour. Every time I’ve offered the book free, it’s shot to around the top of the humour charts on Amazon UK. But…this is a huge category and you have to sell a lot of books to stay up there once your book goes back on paid. I did manage to reach the #3 slot in paid humour on the UK Amazon site and stayed in the top 10 for quite a long time, but in the long term I was up against authors like Nick Spalding and Terry Pratchett, both of whom have shifted hundreds of thousands of books. Not only that, but one reader, who gave me a 4 star review and was otherwise generous with her comments, did say it hadn’t made her laugh. I’ve now put my book in Contemporary Fiction and Women Authors and Fiction and will monitor how that affects sales and ranking.

Moving on from writing, our Saluki lurcher, Isha, is settling in more and more. she was emaciated when found by the rescue organisation we got her from (Evesham Greyhound & Lurcher Rescue: http://bit.ly/RIl2Bt), but she’s filled out with both flesh and muscle. She’s is so gentle and loving but incredibly playful and can be a handful off the lead, when she wants to play with every dog she meets. After the wet summer here in England, we have beautiful sunny weather, with crisp mornings and warm days, so walking the dogs is a joy. I guess book sales, reviews and all else aside, that’s what makes life worthwhile.

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reading old style

It’s interesting, in this age of ereaders and eBooks, how evocative the image of the printed page can still be.

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writing, tweeting, dogs & tags

This is a mish-mash diary kind of entry

I’m pegging on with the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team (http://amzn.to/MgZRmW & http://amzn.to/LJvFhf). Actually pegging on may not be the right description, as it seems to be pouring out at a rate of around 3000 words a day. I haven’t written this fluently since I was a teenager scribbling on my lap in class at school with my desk lid raised to hide what I was doing. Of course, me being me and being quite a perfectionist, I’m deeply suspicious of anything that’s happening so easily – what’s the catch? it’s bound to be inferior if it’s not causing me grief and sending me into displacement activity. But so far it seems fine.

I’m constantly amazed, while writing, at how characters emerge. I may start off with ideas about who they are and what they do, but they soon put me right and surprise me with facets of their personalities that I’d had no notion existed. And people who were minor suddenly thrust themselves into the limelight and take on a more central role in the book. It’s impossible, while in the midst of crafting a novel, not to relate to your characters as if they are real people.

Meanwhile, to return to the leviathan machinations of Twitter, I tweeted recently of how being part of the community of authors on there is akin to being let loose in a huge library: so many excellent books, like gorgeous offerings in a sweet shop window. Just love it! My Kindle is filled to bursting point with wonderful stuff that I’m looking forward to finding time to read. And very few of those books are published traditionally. Although there are some lemons published by indie authors, I would say that there is a vast body of brilliantly written, engaging, absorbing material that the mainstream publishers were mad not to have snapped up. Their loss – and, to be honest, I don’t know that I’d want to go the trad route now: indie lets you keep a much higher percentage of royalties. The Aunt Sally Team earned more in June than my traditionally published books did in six months in the past.

But it’s not all about writing. We take the dogs down to the Kidneys and Aston’s Eyot once or twice a day to run to their hearts’ content. This is a large green area down by the Thames and is filled with trees and wild flowers and various species of wildlife, including red deer, muntjac deer, buzzards, hawks, red kites, herons and jays. This area features quite largely in The Aunt Sally Team and its sequel (which is what I’m writing now).

Mind you, it’s been a minefield down there lately. One of our dogs (the new one, the Saluki lurcher) has taken to rolling in fox poo (which stinks!) and finding rabbit carcases and, last night, a wing from a dead bird – she carries these trophies off in triumph at great speed till yelled at to drop them. I washed her harness two days ago only to have her roll in unspeakable things again. The joys of nature and dog ownership.

Just a final word, while it’s fresh in my mind. If you have a book on Amazon, tags are important. You can do your own tags and hopefully this will encourage others to also tag your book. The tags section is halfway down the page your book is on. Tags help people find you when they are searching via key words, so they are actually pretty important.

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