Tag Archives: publishing

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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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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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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social networking again & writing, with a bit of dog walking thrown in

I’m discovering more facets of social networking, especially regarding Twitter. For a start I’m still trying to gauge how many retweets I can do for fellow authors before going over my daily limit. I’ve got a horribly over developed social conscience and can’t bear to leave anyone out. Consequently I keep being rate restricted, thus hampering tweeting about my own books.

But I’m also finding ways to streamline what I’m doing. Following an excellent series of articles by Rachel Abbott in her author friendly blog (http://rachelabbottwriter.wordpress.com/) I’ve started using SocialOomph to schedule tweets so that I don’t have to worry about composing those and posting throughout the day: you can even save tweets to repeat post later. However, coming back to being rate restricted, I’m finding that some of my scheduled  tweets aren’t going out because I’m over the limit. I really do need to get a handle on how many to do for other people and how many to save for myself.

I’m making friends and getting to know people on Twitter now. I didn’t think that was going to happen, given the brevity of a tweet, but happily there are ways round the 140 character limit, such as breaking a message into several tweets. There are some truly supportive people and my experience so far has mostly been positive and heartening  One or two other authors are less giving and don’t return the retweet favour and a couple are happy to offer swapping likes for your book but don’t fulfil their side of the bargain, but they are in a minority. The majority are courteous and helpful in the extreme.

With scheduling the tweeting of my books, I’m finding time to write now and have got nearly 13,000 words done of the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team. This may not sound like a lot, but the way I work is to reread and reread, polishing and refining as I go along. Walking the dogs in the local water meadows is helping my writing as the book is set in our home area of Oxford.  We see deer down there from time to time and tonight a heron flew over and buzzards were circling. The place is a mass of wild flowers at the moment: yarrow, convolvulus, vetch, teasel, cranesbill and red and white campion. The endless rain of this summer in Britain, followed by sunshine, has caused an absolute profusion of blooms. It’s all very inspiring.

So all in all life is interesting and fulfilling. The worst of the settling in problems with Isha, our new Saluki lurcher, seem to be behind us. She’s fun and very sweet. We still have some hairy moments with her, like when she ran at full speed into the net surrounding the tennis courts in the park today and did a double somersault, but she’s mostly much easier now.

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social networking…

…is stealing my life away! Begin day: breakfast in front of the computer while retweeting other authors’ books and giving my own a quick push; feed dogs; more retweeting, a look at Facebook and pootle around checking my books’ sales and rankings (who am I kidding, that’s the first thing I do when I wake up!); walk dogs; try to do some writing but get distracted by Twitter and Facebook – repeat at regular intervals.

But, you know, it is a wonderful way for authors to keep in touch and meet new friends; it isn’t all about promoting your books. Writing is a very isolating occupation, and while that’s fine and good most of the time, creativity flows better if you have inspiration, input and companionship from others doing the same as you. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the social side of social networking. The icing on the cake for me has been  ‘meeting’ some lovely people and finding new books to read.  A spin-off has been that I see myself mentioned in unexpected places now, popping up on virtual newspapers, websites etc. That has to be good for exposure.

Meanwhile I’m finding the iPad an invaluable tool. I can transfer my new book back and forth from the main computer via Dropbox, which means I can keep writing in front of the television while my partner is watching the Olympics, or slobbed out on the sofa in the morning sun or even in the garden (I know you can do that with a laptop too, but the iPad is smaller and more comfortable to hold). The sequel to The Aunt Sally Team (http://amzn.to/MgZRmW & http://amzn.to/LJvFhf – note sneaky social networking style addition of link!) is growing much faster than the original book did as a result of this relaxed approach to writing. Being able to compose anywhere, instead of making a task of it by sitting in front of the computer, is helping the creative part of my brain to get productive. And don’t get me wrong, though there is discipline involved in writing, I actually love doing it.

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KDP Select free promo part 2, sunny Britain and dog news

My first free promotion of The Aunt Sally Team on Amazon KDP Select was so unexpectedly successful (see my blog entry https://flickm.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/is-kdp-select-worth-the-restrictions-2-2/) that I ran a second one on the 18th and 19th of this month (July). Sales had been fantastic for quite some time after the event, but were finally dwindling to around 10 books per day, so I felt I had nothing to lose.

I’m experiencing another sales boost, but it isn’t as spectacular as the first. I think one reason is that the promo ran for one less day. I had only half the number of free downloads compared with last time. However, I’m still selling a pleasing quantity of The Aunt Sally Team. Some of these sales may be down to my activity on Twitter, of course, and I have noticed increased traffic on my Blog since I began tweeting, plus my other book The Sacred Marriage has picked up. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the bulk of downloads is due to the free promo.

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

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

I’m pleased that the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team is rolling along. I’ve done over 9,000 words and it’s beginning to come together after the sticky start. I had no idea that doing a sequel would be quite that hard: it’s very strange picking up on the characters’ lives a year on from when I began writing the first book and several months on in terms of the events in the book itself. I just treated myself to an iPad 3 with my royalties and I have to say that it makes writing a joy as it’s like a mini laptop and can be used anywhere.

Meanwhile, it’s stopped raining and Britain is enjoying lovely hot, sunny weather along with an absolute profusion of wild flowers in fields, hedgerows and roadside borders – no doubt the result of weeks of rain followed by sun. The heat is much appreciated by Isha, our rescue Saluki cross but not so much by our Border collie/Husky, Dennis, who gets very puffed. Isha has settled in incredibly quickly and it feels as if she’s been here forever. Happy days!

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writing, tweeting, the indie author community and having a new dog in rainy Britain

I’ve been tied to the house for six weeks due to the arrival of Isha our new dog, a six month old Saluki/Whippet rescue dog. It’s been a very restricting time till recently. In the early days I spent the whole time she was awake holding onto the end of a lead to make sure she didn’t chase our five cats. To begin with too she had a badly upset tummy and had to be taken into the garden at regular intervals, including the middle of the night. It was something like having a new baby in terms of sleep deprivation and in the end it was easier to sleep with her so that I could get her out at the first whimper, thus forestalling any messy accidents. That led to temporary separation anxiety and Bee Gee like howling at night once we began to leave her downstairs alone (except for the company of our border collie cross, that is). Then there was the problem of exercising her while she was first with us and couldn’t safely be allowed off the lead away from the house. Add that to torrential rain and a very wet June and you can imagine the effect a cooped up running dog has had on the garden.

None of this, of course, has been conducive to writing blogs or books, or networking. Though I have made a start on the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team.

Meanwhile I have plunged into using Twitter. I’ve had an account for some months but just didn’t “get it”. It’s been a bit of a learning curve, especially getting used to how fast it all moves, but I’m now retweeting like a goodun – so much so that this morning I retweeted so many other authors’ books that I was rate limited and couldn’t tweet my own for several hours. I hadn’t realised there was a limit – though I suppose, thinking about it, that there would have to be. I know now! But it’s been wonderful to connect with a thriving community of other writers, many of them indie authors.

So now to drag myself away from blogs and Twitter and obsessively watching my hourly book sales and Amazon ranking. I have a novel to write, hopefully in time for Christmas.

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