Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Neglected blogs rock!

Radio silence. This phrase is used in tense situations and, more alarmingly, in ridiculously mundane blog posts such as this. I've been cultivating a persona of enigma as of late with my lack of words online. It would seem as if it was a meticulous effort on my part to be more in demand when, in all actuality, it is due to "life events". Least of which include the word writing, as it should.

I used "life events" in quotes merely because people use that phrase almost as often as "radio silence" with equally alarming frequency. As if one couldn't discern that life gets in the way from online productivity. It's not as if anyone actually reads my blog posts and as if I've got enough people paying attention to me to warrant an excuse for explaining my absence from blogging. Unless you're an agent or book publisher, in which case: I am sorry to the legion of fans who have been beating down my virtual doors demanding an explanation into the reasons for my months long absence with witticisms and insights. Your loyalty means the world to me and I implore you to continue not comment in the comments section below as you've successfully predicted my unspoken wishes.

I will write more in this blog in the future, once I figure out precisely what a blog should be for. I assume quotes from Oscar Wilde.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thoughts on the "Free Book Promotion" model (Why it's still awesome and how you should view it)

I was reading the Amazon KDP forums the other day when I saw an author lamenting the lack of sales after a free promotion. The author of the post was Michael W. Parres (whose book is titled "Shades of Retribution".) Here's a snippet of what he said:

"After one day of posting, you register 350 downloads, and gleefully wait for the “promotion bounce” to generate expected sales. Unfortunately, your hope is quickly dashed, with zero sales."
He concludes in the post:
"Amazon’s “free book” promotions (along with allowing free book pricing outside of promotional schemes) have pulled millions of potential buyers out of the e-book market, thus reducing demand for books that carry a price. People have become conditioned to pay nothing, or very little for the pleasure of reading an e-book. To quote a friend: “Why should I pay for a book, when there are tons I can get for free?” "

I wrote a long response that, upon reflection, could be useful to the writing community at-large. Not that people read this blog in droves. Still, better than buried as a comment on forum.


The free model for obtaining books has existed since the dawn of reading with the invention of libraries. Free gets people talking. Free gets people reading. The KDP Select free periods are excellent in garnering reviews, sales, etc. - if you do it right. You only got a couple hundred downloads. That may seem like I'm tossing off a decent number... but actually, that number might as well be zero. Allow me to expand.

There are people out there who reap every free book that come out hourly on Amazon's top "free" lists. They select specific categories and just download the top 100 books of that category, then move on to the next. By weeks end they've culled thousands of books. To what end? You might ask. Wouldn't they not have enough drive space for this? You follow with. The answers are simple: they delete after purchase and the more free period books they snatch and delete, the more they can browse the Kindle library at their leisure and redownload any books that might interest them that were previously free... without having to purchase. I know of a few people that claim to run bots that do this. There are also many many people who regularly trawl the free list and get bunches of books with the intention of someday reading them in the future. But they are usually lying to themselves.

If you only get a couple hundred downloads, you might as well have gotten zero. It's no wonder it didn't result in sales for you. Most self published authors regard the free promotion as a set it and forget it kind of thing. Sure, they'll share the link on their twitter. Maybe they'll post it to facebook, too. But that's about the same as shouting in the mirror. You may feel like you look good doing it, but ultimately you're talking to yourself.

The benefits of putting your book out for free, even if it isn't part of a series, is numerous if you promote it correctly. Here's just a few benefits (assuming you can get up to 1,000 downloads or more during your free period):

  • Purchases of other books of yours that aren't free if you have any
  • Money from Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Online Lending Library (you get your royalty if any of those free downloaders lends your book and someone reads more than 10% of it! This accounted for about a quarter of my earnings in September, for example.)
  • Improved position in searches for keywords (this is an oft overlooked thing for people taking advantage of free periods)
  • Improved population in 'Also bought' lists (The more downloads you get, the more you'll be populated with more popular books)

and more. That's just the base of the mountain.

Instead of lamenting about free, you should view self publishing as a game. Since your end goal seems to be sales, this is important. (People who publish for the love of writing needn't worry about playing the game.) I will outline what the game is and perhaps you'll give another crack at going free for two or three days and see how it goes.

Level One - Preparation

Knowing the whole of the map can only help your journey.

Set up the free days. Three days is decent. Two days is more precious. Next, grab a link to your book. Search for free book submit on Google. You'll find many blogs and Facebook pages that will accept your link for consideration on the day of. My book got featured on one such Facebook page called Pixel of Ink. It hit #16 overall free. That's right, out of the massive amount of books for free, I got to #16. It was awesome. I digress. If you give these blogs and sites a weeks notice and they happen to check out your work, you'll get lucky and be featured.

Another bit of preparation is participation in online groups. Go to Facebook writers groups. Find some reader clubs. Go on reddit and participate in some of the chin wagging there. Make friends. This will require at least a months preparation for people to get to know you. I wrote a blog post about a few places I posted when my book was free (it's an earlier entry but easy to find) -- use some of those links and make your face a familiar one on those pages or sites. People will be more keen to reshare / repost / etc. if you are known to them and help them out, joke with them, and have fun.

Level Two - Charting and Keywording

Two authors, seen here, hammering away at the competition.

The night before your free promotion, you have some things to mull over. Chief among them? What keywords do you want to chart with. I wanted to beat out the competition and be tops when people searched for "Writing Prompts". Go to amazon now and type in Writing Prompts. See if you can find my book of 1,000 awesome writing prompts. (Keep in mind, before I decided to view this as a game, I was content with being on page 15 overall.) How did I start to climb the rankings? I had researched and read countless blog posts and one made mention of adding keywords you thought people might search for at the end of the url. So, for me, it was &keywords=writing+prompts -- does it actually work? Some people argue that it doesn't. I feel I've logged enough proof (also on my blog, I did a live experiment) that seems to prove otherwise. Just think of the phrase people would likely use to find a book in your genre and go for it. People tend to not type more than two word phrases so keep it simple!

Next up is charting. That's where you climb up the ranks of your category and get as giddy as a schoolgirl the higher you climb. My last adventure with free saw me at #331 overall and #1 in the highly competitive Writing Skills category. If you're able to chart highly in a category, this will result in more downloads from people who only browse the top ten free of a particularly good category.

How can you control that climb? Well, remember level one? You're going to first ask friends and followers on twitter and your personal facebook page to share your url (Remember, include those keywords in that url!) Then you wait an hour. Then you perhaps post on one or two (not ALL!) facebook groups that you're a member of. Then you wait an hour. Then you post on one of the social media sites like Reddit's "freeebooks" subreddit. Then you wait an hour. Then you post a little something on another subreddit and one other facebook group you haven't hit yet. Then you wait. Get the pattern? Why wait, some may ask. Because, my friend, there's a thing called time zones. Smattering your links across a wide swath of places and times will result in more people seeing your link. Remember, this is a game, you need to be crafty!

Level Three - Final Level!
Curse you, AAA! How do you always get the high score?!

Think of the # overall position free your place on a scoreboard for a video game. When you play a video game, do you try to only aim for 1,000th place? Or do you want to be in the top 500? Wouldn't the top 100 be better? Top 20? #1? Every time you do a KDP Select Free period, try to get a better position than before. Write down things you felt worked and things you felt were a waste of your time. Try to replicate what seemed to give you a boost and multiply it be researching more. You'll need to do more than one free period to maximize that free period bump. There are millions upon millions of books on Amazon. What makes yours better? Refine your blurb. Make it something you'd read. Be sure you're working on an Amazon Author Central page. Add some particularly good quotes from 5 star reviews to your AAC book page as well. If you're gunna play the promotion game, you're gunna need an attractive and irresistible product.

I've gone on way long here. But I hope I've given you a different perspective on how I view free periods. I self published at the end of April for the first time ever. I put out a softcover version of my book at the end of August (I should have done it sooner!) I sell about 100 copies of the ebook a month. My primary focus has now been promoting the softcover (I devised a different game for myself for that.) Last month my softcover sold 77 copies in total. A record. But guess what, I kept plugging away. It's paid off. So far this month (13 days) I have not only passed my 77 in a month record, I'm at 120 softcover sales. I fully believe that with patience, planning and proper execution, one can see brisk regular sales. Keep challenging yourself. Keep reaching for the high score.

Then you'll get to do it all over again with your next book. But, hopefully, with the added benefit of loyal readers.

Pretty much this.

And remember, many people first discovered their lifelong favorite authors when they first read a book for free from the library.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Places to promote your book (when your book is free)

My previous post discussed a two day free promotion I did with my book on Amazon. I promised links to the places where I promoted my book but felt a separate post would be best. Before I give the links however, you need to understand how to maximize the effectiveness of your linking.

The first thing you should be doing is building a presence on any site you intend to link with in the future. Don't just pop in, post links to your book and pop out. Nobody will know you. Nobody will click your link. You should contribute to the discussions, comment on other posts, build friendships and continue such activities well after the free period.

The first set of links I'm going to give you highlight the need to do what I just stated. These links are on a site called Reddit. This site imposes the need to participate on you. If you don't participate you won't see activity on any of your links. In fact, if anyone sees anything you link there and you've just created an account to link your stuff, it'll be a miracle. The way Reddit works is that new accounts can't link to stuff more than once over the course of many hours. Sometimes your link will be filtered out if you're a new account, too. Go to http://reddit.com - make an account - go there daily and learn how Reddit works. It's a fun site and it's where I tend to get most traction for free periods for my book. I've also connected with and formed years long friendships with people on the site.

The way Reddit works is, essentially, like a giant forum. Forums have subforums for categories, Reddit has subreddits in the same thought. Here are the subreddits that welcome you to promote your work:

  1. /r/FreeEbooks
  2. /r/KindleFreebies
  3. /r/ShamelessPlug
  4. /r/bookdownloads
  5. /r/eFreebies/
There are more subreddits, but these are the most used ones. There's even regional subreddits like /r/FreebiesUK (and even more for places like Australia, Canada, etc.) but you should primarily stick to the five listed.

What's good about listing your books there is that not only do you get listed on Reddit, but there are bots that autopromote links from there on twitter. Also, since Reddit is such a social type of place, you're more likely to see someone tweet about your book on twitter after they've seen your link on Reddit, then you are if you ask people to retweet you.

The next place you should be promoting is on Facebook. Like Reddit, you ought to be making friends and talking to people there. If you don't, you won't see any traction! However, if you make friends and you post in any of the groups I'm about to mention, those friends might see your post and give it a visibility boost by commenting or liking your post. (If your posts get no likes or comments, it tends to be dead in the water, not showing up in anyones feed.)

Here are some Facebook groups that allow promotion:

Don't post everywhere all at once! Stagger your posts for different time zone coverage!

This is key. If you just go link crazy one hour and then expect traction throughout... or if you link everywhere constantly... less people will follow your link. Advertise at most in two places on any particular hour. The next hour go for two completely different places. Heck, give it two or three hours. The more time zones you hit, the more people will notice your links.

This brings me to my next part of where to share your book links: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media sites that allow hashtags. On all these social media sites, it's important to interact with other users before you ever promote because you'll start building a following. You'll start getting people interested in you as a person and they will be more apt to share your links. When you do share your links on any of these platforms, hashtags are important to include with your post! Example of a right way and a wrong way of formulating a twitter post:

- WRONG WAY: Here's my book. It's free today. Please retweet. http://amazon.com/dp/B00JOVSYC2/
- RIGHT WAY: Free today! A book of awesome writing prompts. http://amazon.com/1-000-Awesome-Writing-Prompts-ebook/dp/B00JOVSYC2/&sr=1-40&keywords=writing #amwriting #freeebooks

Here's the difference between the right way and the wrong way. The wrong way doesn't explain anything about the book. The wrong way also didn't use hashtags. Why use hashtags? Because people who aren't on your friends list can discover you through hashtags. Also, the right way linked to the book using the &keywords=keyword trick which I described in this previous blog post about making the best of your free promotion period.

When you share on an image type of social media site like Pinterest or Instagram, use a part of your cover or a small section/quote from your book stylized as an image for people that's easy to share.

If you do all of the above properly, you should be able to easily crack the top 600 overall free for your day. If you found this post helpful, be sure to share it! If you have any questions, feel free to ask below.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Transparent Two Day Experiment of Amazon's KDP Select Free Promotion

Amazon is by far the most popular seller of ebooks. There's no question. If you have any hopes of self publishing a book and having anyone read it, you need to make sure it's available there. However, in a sea of millions upon millions of books, how does one get noticed? Amazon seems to offer one idea: The KDP Select program. There are three primary draws for signing up to KDP Select: 1) The free promotion days (you have five you can use in any 90 day enrollment period), 2) Kindle countdown deals (where your book goes on sale, gets a little promotion, and the price starts out with whatever discount you set and then slowly climbs up to the regular price), 3) The Kindle Online Lending Library (KOLL) and Kindle Unlimited (KU) (users essentially "take out" your book like it's a library book and you get money if they go through more than 10% of the book.)

In the past, I have taken part in the free promotion days. However, this time I wanted to track precisely how well my book, "1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts", performed, where I promoted my book and the resulting statistics for a few days after. Your mileage will vary, obviously. Leading up to my free promotion, I decided to do absolutely no preparation. It was more of a "fly by the seat of my pants" style prep. I would not recommend this to anyone. It's much better to contact blogs and other sites in advance to see if they'll tweet or write a note on Facebook about your book being free on the day of. This will generate more activity than if you rely on yourself to promote it.

One last thing to note before I share with you the results of my experiment: I decided I would make my book free on two of the busiest online shopping days of the season. Thanksgiving and "Black Friday." I wanted to see if this would increase sales during the Saturday, Sunday and "Cyber Monday" that follows it. It should be an interesting ride. (Note: Cyber Monday has yet to happen, this blog post will be updated once Cyber Monday has concluded.)

DAY ONE (Thanksgiving: November 27th, 2014)

  • 12am-11am EST - I did zero promotion, zero linking on any sites. I'm sure the stats won't be impressive. The stats will reflect end of hour totals by the way. 

    STATS: 22 free downloads overall. 10,010 overall. #23 Writing Skills. 0 sales of softcover book. 0 sales of my second nonfree 99 cent ebook.
  • 11am-12pm EST. Put a link up on my twitter account. Put a link on some link aggregate sites (Reddit, for example.) Put a link on a few Facebook pages.

    STATS: 43 free downloads overall (+21 downloads/hour.) 10,010 overall. #23 Writing Skills. 0 sales of softcover book. 0 sales of 2nd 99 cent ebook.
  • 12pm-1pm EST. Letting the links get shared rather than sharing the link in other places. Figured I'd give it some time to go around a bit.

    STATS: 60 free downloads overall (+17 downloads/hour.) 6,956 overall. #14 Writing Skills. 0 sales of softcover book. 0 sales of my second 99 cent ebook.
  • 1pm-2pm EST. Posted this thread. Shared the link on a few other sites.

    STATS: 107 free downloads overall (+47 downloads/hour.). 6,444 overall. #12 Writing Skills. 0 sales of softcover book. 0 sales of my 2nd 99 cent ebook. This is the area where downloads would need to start climbing by the hundreds to start having any significant chart effect.
  • 2pm-3pm EST. Let the link grow organically rather than share it elsewhere. Will likely do this for the next hour as well.

    STATS: 119 free downloads overall (+12 downloads/hour.) 3,448 overall (quite a leap.) #7 Writing Skills. 0 sales of softcover book. 0 sales of other 99 cent ebook.
  • 3pm-4pm EST. Others have told me they've been sharing the link. I've done no extra promotion, however.

    STATS: 154 free downloads overall (+35 downloads/hour.) Ranks have not changed. Sometimes this happens with the hourly updates not updating in a particular hour. 0 sales of softcover book. 0 sales of other 99 cent ebook.
  • 4pm-5pm EST. Still no extra promotion or linking anywhere else. Letting the "organic" linking/sharing thing happen.

    STATS: 202 free downloads overall (+48 downloads/hour.) 1,862 overall. #5 in Writing Skills. 1 sale of the softcover book. 0 sales of my other 99 cent ebook.
  • 5pm-6pm EST. Once again, just letting the link grow as it should. I will start linking on other sites to help growth (and will link to said sites at the end of this post so you know which sites I promoted with.)

    STATS: 222 free downloads overall (+20 downloads/hour.) 1,438 overall. #3 in Writing Skills (being in the top 5 free of Writing Skills will also help downloads.) 1 sale for the day so far of the softcover. 1 sale for the day of the other 99 cent ebook.
  • 6pm-7pm EST. I was delayed in writing this update. I did additional promotion via twitter for this hour, then got sidetracked.

    STATS: 241 free downloads overall (+19 downloads/hour.) 1,399 overall. #3 in Writing Skills. 1 sale for the day so far of the softcover. 1 sale for the day of the other 99 cent ebook.
  • 7pm-8pm EST. No additional promotion on sites during this hour. Just seeing where it goes.

    STATS: 280 free downloads overall (+39 downloads/hour.) 962 overall. #2 in Writing Skills. 1 sale for the day so far of the softcover. 2 sales for the day of the other 99 cent ebook.
  • 8pm-9pm EST. I promoted the book across a few more Facebook groups. I try to stagger where I link it and try to leave a unique thought or comment with each post depending on what group it is. I figure staggering the links will make it hit across different time zones/areas. One thing I neglected to keep track of was the stats for the stores of the other counties. These have been stats for the us. So in parentheses I will include stats for UK/Canada/Australia.

    STATS: 300 free downloads overall (+20 downloads/hour.) 758 overall. #2 in Writing Skills. 1 sale for the day so far of the softcover. 2 sales for the day of the other 99 cent ebook. (UK: #1,043 OA / #1 Writing. CA: #399 OA / #2 Writing. AUS: #6,734 OA / #6 Writing.)
  • 9pm-10pm EST. Shared the link with a couple more groups. No more promotion aside from that.

    STATS: 358 free downloads overall (+58 downloads/hour - biggest download hour of the day.) #717 overall. #2 in Writing Skills. 1 sale for the day so far of the softcover. 2 sales for the day of the other 99 cent ebook. (UK: #983 OA / #1 Writing. CA: #248 OA / #1 Writing. AUS: #6,745 OA / #6 Writing.)
  • 10pm-11pm EST. No additional promotion aside an additional twitter link. Just lettin' it ride.

    STATS: 389 free downloads overall (+31 downloads/hour.) #717 overall (No change.) #2 in Writing Skills. (No change.) 1 sale for the day so far of the softcover. 2 sales for the day of the other 99 cent ebook. (UK: #983 OA / #1 Writing. CA: #240 OA / #1 Writing. AUS: #6,799 OA / #6 Writing.)
  • 11pm-12am EST. Posted to one Facebook group. That's about it. Things are winding down as I'll be heading to bed soon, so more updates might be done around 8am EST.

    STATS: 406 free downloads overall (+17 downloads/hour.) #620 overall. #2 in Writing Skills. I end the day with a single sale of the softcover. 2 sales for my other 99 cent ebook. (UK: #1,069 / #1 Writing. No surprise here as it is 5am in the UK. CA: #178 OA / #1 Writing. I love Canada! AUS: #6,838 / #6 Writing. Australia showing less love. It's about 6pm on a Friday. Guess everyone's in the brush out there.)

DAY TWO (Black Friday: November 29th, 2014)

  • 7AM EST. Slept. Amazons stats wind up jumping around a bit after midnight EST. It now states that I ended day one with 497 downloads. (Which is always odd since it had already started ticking downloads in the day 2 stats after that 406 count. I guess they just have issues with time zones and the +90 happened between 12am and 3am hours when the day finally ended for all.)

    STATS: 61 downloads today. (Starting over the tally.) #347 overall. Still #2 in Writing Skills. The #1 book appears to be at #341. It's a neck and neck race. 0 sales today of the softcover. 0 sales of the other ebook.
  • 7AM-8AM EST. No additional promotion done. Had to drive to work, after all.

    STATS: 80 downloads. (+19 downloads/hour.) #349 overall (No change.) #2 in Writing Skills. (No change.) 0 sales today of the softcover. 0 sales of the other ebook. (UK: #932 OA / #1 Writing. CA: #199 OA / #1 Writing. AUS: #6,505 OA / #6 Writing.)
  • 8AM-9AM EST. Put up a few links on twitter and Facebook for promotion. Seems to be my two primary venues, I know.

    STATS: 92 downloads. (+12 downloads/hour.) #336 overall. #1 Writing Skills (finally! This means I've made it to #1 in the Writing Skills category each time I've put my book for free. Personal victory.) 0 sales today of the softcover. 0 sales of the other ebook. (UK: #932 OA / #1 Writing. CA: #199 OA / #1 Writing. AUS: #6,505 OA / #6 Writing -- international stats appear to remain unchanged.)
  • 9AM-10AM EST. Shared a few links on Facebook. But FB is drowning with people doing "Black Friday" promotions of their stuff. Doubt it will have any traction.

    STATS: 111 downloads. (+19 downloads/hour.) #331 overall. #1 Writing Skills. 1 sale of the softcover. 0 sales of the other ebook. (UK: #966 OA / #1 Writing. CA: #191 OA / #1 Writing. AUS: #6,572 OA / #6 Writing.)
  • 10AM-11AM EST. Shared link with the NaNoWriMo community (they only allow people who actively participate to promote there.) Shared a link on Facebook.

    STATS: 121 downloads. (+10 downloads/hour. Slowing down, it seems.) #331 overall (holding!) #1 Writing Skills (seems the #1 position isn't doing much in aiding downloads. Or being in the top 400 overall.) 1 sale of the softcover for the day still. 0 sales of the other ebook. (There was insignificant change in the international stats.)
  • 11AM-12PM EST. Shared some links on Facebook. Not much else for promotion.

    STATS: 135 downloads. (+14 downloads/hour.) #345 overall (dropping!) #1 Writing Skills. 1 sale of the softcover for the day still. 0 sales of the other ebook. (UK: Same stats. CA: #202 OA. AUS: #6,423.)

  • 12PM-1PM EST. No promotion during this hour. Lunch time. I think links elsewhere during the next hour is best to goose the numbers. Still above where I was yesterday, though.

    STATS: 145 downloads. (+10 downloads/hour.) #345 overall (holding!) #1 Writing Skills. 2 sales of the softcover today (yay! I like softcover sales. But this is a margin of error thing of +/- 2 sales a day even before my free promotion. 3 or more would be abnormal.) 0 sales of the other ebook. (International stats holding and, really... I think they're not worth tracking at this point.)
  • 1PM-2PM EST. Promoted via Pinterest, other subreddits, facebook, twitter and instagram. Likely my last push for downloads.

    STATS: 175 downloads. (+30 downloads/hour.) #373 overall (dropping. boo.) #1 Writing Skills. 2 sales of the softcover. 0 sales of the other ebook.
  • 2PM-3PM EST. This is the hour where we see how much fruit blossoms from the flurry of promotion in the previous hour.

    STATS: 197 downloads. (+22 downloads/hour. Respectable showing.) #373 overall (holding. I'll take it.) #1 Writing Skills (neck and neck with the #2 spot holder. If I drop down 10 spots, I'm at #2 again.) 4 sales of the softcover for the day. Nice! An expected boost there. +2 for the hour. 1 sale of the other ebook. (It would take 2 sales of the 99 cent ebook to be out of the norm, however.)
  • 3PM-4PM EST. The interesting part of my experiment started taking root. My primary goal for the free period was to improve the visibility when people searched for the basic word "Writing." Before, my book didn't show up on any page. This hour it had jumped to page 7 overall and page 6 when you searched in either the Kindle department or the physical books department.

    STATS: 214 downloads. (+17 downloads/hour.) #424 overall. (Dropping again.) #2 Writing Skills (oh well!) 4 sales of the softcover for the day. 1 sale of the other ebook for the day.
  • 4PM-5PM EST. Not much to report here. Nothing of note happened.

    STATS: 233 downloads. (+19 downloads/hour.) #424 overall. (Holding.) #2 Writing Skills. 4 sales of the softcover for the day. 1 sale of the other ebook for the day.
  • 5PM-6PM EST. Still no more movement in page rankings. Letting it "sit" for the rest of the day is what I've decided to do, rather than plug it more in the venues I've already tapped.

    STATS: 251 downloads. (+18 downloads/hour.) #466 overall. (At least it wasn't a huge drop.) #2 Writing Skills. 4 sales of the softcover for the day. 1 sale of the other ebook for the day.
  • 7PM-8PM EST. Not much to report once again during this hour, except an unexpected bump in downloads.

    STATS: 300 downloads. (+49 downloads/hour. Second largest download amount of the experiment.) #493 overall. (But that jump didn't help with my stat here.) #2 Writing Skills. 4 sales of the softcover for the day. 1 sale of the other ebook for the day.
  • 8PM-9PM EST. I guess we'll get to see if that jump in downloads helped the stats in this next hour.

    STATS: 318 downloads. (+18 downloads/hour.) #547 overall. (Nope. Still dropping.) #2 Writing Skills. 4 sales of the softcover for the day. 2 sales of the other ebook for the day (Hey, a sale is a sale.)
  • 9PM-10PM EST. With the bummer of dropping down a bunch of points, at least I'm still in the top 600 overall. Let's see if I'm able to close out the last few hours in the top 600.

    STATS: 338 downloads. (+20 downloads/hour.) #555 overall. (Not a huge drop, I'm fine with this.) #2 Writing Skills (Glad this is holding.) 5 sales of the softcover for the day! Another softcover sale! 2 sales of the other ebook for the day.
  • 10PM-11PM EST. Just two hours left of my tracking. This hour and the next. Let's see how far the bottom is.

    STATS: 356 downloads. (+18 downloads/hour.) #595 overall. (Still top 600! Ha!) #2 Writing Skills. 5 sales of the softcover for the day. 2 sales of the other ebook for the day.
  • 11PM-12AM EST. The final hour. I'll write a bit of conclusion after the stats of this hour.

    STATS: 386 downloads. (+30 downloads/hour.) #577 overall. (Ended the day by starting to climb back up and staying in the top 600. A high note.) #2 Writing Skills (Awesome to hold on top the top two spots for a good majority of the time.) 4 sales of the softcover for the day. 1 sale of the other ebook for the day.)


At the end of the day, the "free period" ended for all of Amazon at 3AM EST (or midnight PST.) The downloads of day two equaled 426. With that in mind, here are some stats:


  • Downloads: 923.
  • Softcover sales: 5.
  • Alternate eBook sales: 4.
  • Peak position: 331 overall.
  • Peak spot: #1 in Writing Skills category.

(The statistics for the day following the free promotion.)

  • eBook purchases of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts: 7.
  • Softcover sales: 8! (This is, by far the best stat.)
  • eBook purchases of the 101 Horror Writing Prompts: 2.
  • Position of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts (ebook): #31,124 overall. #53 in Writing Skills.
  • Position of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts (paperback): #32,023 overall. #90 in Writing Skills.
  • Keyword visibility when searching for "Writing": Last result on page 2 (in the physical books search) | Middle result on Page 3 (when no category is specified at all) | Middle result as well on Page 3 (when Kindle books category is selected.) -- These are all awesome results considering I didn't show up on the first 20 pages a few days ago when the basic word "Writing" was searched for. Perhaps this stat will rise in the future.

(The statistics for Sunday, November 30th.)

  • eBook purchases of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts: 7 (Keeping up the pace)
  • Softcover sales: 6 (not a bad showing)
  • eBook purchases of the 101 Horror Writing Prompts: 1.
  • Position of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts (ebook): #30,671 overall. #56 in Writing Skills.
  • Position of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts (paperback): #29,078 overall. #87 in Writing Skills.
  • Keyword visibility when searching for "Writing": Near the middle on page 2 when searching for physical books (it moved up about four positions from the previous day) | Top position on Page 3 (when no category is specified at all) -- So it has moved up here as well! | Middle result on Page 3 (when Kindle books category is selected.) - No change from yesterday on that last category.
(The statistics for Cyber Monday, December 1st.)

  • eBook purchases of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts: 4 (the dropoff begins)
  • Softcover sales: 4 (here too)
  • eBook purchases of the 101 Horror Writing Prompts: 2.
  • Position of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts (ebook): #27,617 overall. #55 in Writing Skills.
  • Position of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts (paperback): #34,728 overall. #97 in Writing Skills.
  • Keyword visibility when searching for "Writing": Middle on page 2 (When searching for physical books. Moving up two spots.) | Middle position on page 2 (when no category is specified at all) -- Decent position change | Middle result on Page 2 (when Kindle books category is selected.) - Big change from yesterday.

(The statistics for Tuesday, December 2nd.)

  • eBook purchases of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts: 3 (the dropoff continues?)
  • Softcover sales: 12?! What the heck?
  • Borrows from Kindle Unlimited/Kindle Lending Library: 4. I didn't include this stat the other days because the number was zero.
  • eBook purchases of the 101 Horror Writing Prompts: 1.
  • Position of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts (ebook): #23,126 overall. #44 in Writing Skills.
  • Position of 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts (paperback): #28,382 overall. #87 in Writing Skills.
  • Keyword visibility when searching for "Writing": Second position on page 2 (When searching for physical books. Moving up a few more spots. Is this what drove more softcover sales?) | Sixth position on page 2 (when no category is specified at all) -- Moved a few more spots | Top result on Page 2 (when Kindle books category is selected.) - All three categories, a big position change. See note #2 below.
Note (december 2nd): It moved up in searches but down in purchases. I wonder if it moves up to page one if that will help, maybe we shall see. I will record the stats for the end of December 2nd. Then I will wait and see how it improves, if it gets to page one for searches of writing and if that has any effect on sales. Stay tuned!

Note #2 (December 3rd): These notes are written just after midnight. So this thought is about the Dec. 2nd sales. Last night the positon in searches for softcover books improved for my book. Today sales of the softcover jumped from 4 to 12. So we shall see, since the search position improved for all categories to high up or the top spot on the second page, if that results in sales. Then we shall see if in turn the search position improves more. This will tell me (and you) whether or not specific keywords are integral to sales.

Stay tuned, once again.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

For Self Published Authors: How to make the most out of a free Amazon promotion book sale

Self publishing a book has been a great learning process for me, I shirked my responsibilites in maintaining this blog but now that I'm done with writing that first book, I can impart some wisdom. I've learned things that I wish I knew in advance that I'd like to share. I considered publishing the book on multiple platforms other than Amazon (nook, ibook, etc.) but instead listened to a friend's advice and enrolled in the KDP select program.

The first couple of weeks, my book was on sale for $3.99. This is what the chart Amazon gives you monitoring my books... success:

You can see the day where I announced the book to friends and family spike. After that, it sometimes sold two copies, sometimes one. Then I tried a single day of the free promotions they allow you to run. In that day I saw a spike of a little over 100 downloads of the book. Sales "picked up" and that's when you see the stretch of three days in a row with four sales a piece. Now I've gone whole hog and am in the middle of a promotion with the book having been available for four days in total (ending this weekend) for free. Here's the current chart:

So far well over 1,000 downloads. I'm currently sitting around #320 overall in the free books chart. I'm at #42 in Non-fiction. I actually have reviews now, which the book lacked. Will this translate to sales after the free period is over? Yes, and the following tips ought to help explain why.


1. I whored myself out, there's no way of sugar coating it. I searched for every single blog, facebook group and subreddit that I could find that was dedicated to announcing free ebooks. You might be like me and feel like you're spamming, but you've got to do it. I found this site: http://www.trainingauthors.com/facebook-groups-for-authors/ which had a lot of links that welcomed your linkage of the book. Then there's Reddit. One of the most popular sites currently on the internet. Before you post there, you should make an account at least a month in advance and post thoughtful comments and links not related to any of your own projects, otherwise nobody will see your posts. The best "subreddits" to post a link to your book are: /r/KindleFreebies, /r/eFreebies, /r/FreeEBOOKS, /r/selfpublish.
2. I asked friends to retweet, or share a link on Facebook to it. People don't mind doing that as much if it's free. When you do tweet, putting relevant hashtags like #freebie #freekindle #freeebook #indiepub #kindle are a must if you want people outside of your universe to find it. Use more hash than a hippie at a Grateful Dead concert in the 70's.
3. When you link to your book make sure that the keywords you want it to rank higher in are in the URL! You will want to add sr=1-40&keywords=whatever+keywords+you+want+here to the end of your books url. For me the phrase I wanted my book to show up higher on was "Writing Prompts". My url is: http://www.amazon.com/1-000-Awesome-Writing-Prompts-ebook/dp/B00JOVSYC2/sr=1-40&keywords=writing+prompts -- before this free experiment, my book showed up on the tenth page overall in kindle books when you searched for writing prompts. It has climbing a few pages a day since then and is now almost to the top of the second page when you do a search in the kindle store. Hopefully it shows up on the first page by the end of Sunday, but even the second page is great.
4. Make your author profile so people can easily start following you or contacting you. Do this before you start promoting your book because they warn you that it can take up to two days for your author profile to show up on the books you're selling. https://authorcentral.amazon.com/ is the place to go.
5. Make any changes to your book cover at least two days before you do any big promotion. I wasn't happy with my original cover so I had a friend design a new cover. It changed in the book itself within six hours, but it took two days for the cover to change in the item listing and anyone who downloaded it during that time got the old cover.

I hope this helps some of you. I'm still learning and hopefully will pick up even more tips along the way to impart to all of you. Keep being awesome. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

An Evening With Watson

"Do you have a belief in ghosts, John?" Sherlock was setting his newspaper down and looked at me inquisitively.

"I'll tell you this, I certainly believe in other peoples strong convictions of their existence." I sat back in my chair, reminiscing.

"Is there a story in that statement?" He began packing his pipe, seemingly settled that I was going to tell him a story.

"Are you familiar with the 'dumb supper'?"

"Only just. I know it's some form of superstition. Please, do impart on me your wisdom." He began puffing the pipe as he brought the flame to the end.

"It's a ritual performed on All Hallows' Eve. Young ladies prepare a meal that they set out for an unnamed guest. They are to wait in silence for half an hour. If successful, at the stroke of midnight, she will see the ghost of her future husband. He will set down upon the meal and then vanish."

Sherlock smiled as he seemed to envision this futile ritual.

"My first year out of school, I get a message from a dear friend. He was urgent that I come to his home immediately. His sister, he said, was in hysterics. I dashed off and arrived in the cloak of night." I paused and added, "Mind you - I had never heard of this dumb supper ritual." Sherlock nodded and bade him to continue.

"I entered their home and called out the ladies name to no reply. Upon walking in the dining area, I see a delicious meal with a placard in front that said 'For the Gentleman.'"

"What did you think of this scene?"

"Well, what was I *supposed* to think? I sat down to the meal as I figured it was prepared for me! I hadn't eaten that evening in my rush to their home. Imagine my surprise when, after my first bite, the young lady who had been spying by a nearby doorway fainted! My bosom pal came from around the corner, he had set the whole thing up!"

After we had a laugh, Sherlock pressed on with his inquisition.

"That doesn't tell me whether or not you have a belief in the supernatural."

"I have an underlying conviction that ghosts have no existence but in people's own imagination." Sherlock seemed disappointed at this response. "However... my resolution has been put to the test."

"Another story for the evening?" Sherlock raised an eyebrow. I nodded and at this, he rose from his chair pouring two snifters of brandy. He handed one glass to me and he returned to his seat.

"It was the first day of my apprenticeship when I received my first lesson in anatomy. The assistant took me to the garret at the top of the house where I studied. Here I was shown a skeleton, the several bones being connected by wires. It lay in a long case, something like an old clock case. It was likely the skeleton of a criminal, perhaps a murderer who had been hung, for at that period these afforded almost the only supply of skeletons. I was told that these bones were now mere dried inorganic matter. After quick examination, the lid of the box was then closed and fastened by a clasp."

I took a sip of the brandy, savoring the flavor and feeling the heat of it as it made its way to my stomach.

"I had a bedroom to myself in this place. Feeling lonely, I left the door open on going to bed, that I might feel more in company with the rest of the family. I could not sleep, and when the house was still and I at rest, I distinctly heard the rattling of bones up in the garret; for the door had been left open, and was just at the top of the stairs which led down to the landing close by my chamber door. I dare not get out of bed and lock the door, for I might meet the skeleton walking into my room in his bones!" I paused, recalling the evening with perfect clarity.

"The rattling continued, with short intermission, all night. I got no sleep, of course. As soon as the morning broke, and I heard the servants about, I resolved to go up and investigate - expecting at least to find the skeleton sitting up in his bones. However, the case was fastened down as we had left it. But upon opening the lid... half a dozen wild kittens, which had been bred unnoticed amongst the lumber, scampered out at one of the ends, which had been broken in. The whole mystery was solved!"

Sherlock nodded, as if he had wordlessly guessed the conclusion to my story.

"Why do you inquire as to my belief in the supernatural, Sherlock?" I finally came to ask.

"Why else, my dear Watson... because we have a case!"


The above is something I wrote yesterday as I've been reading a lot of Sherlock lately. I hope this entertained someone out there.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Brilliant Lights

Ryan Andrew Kinder
               I can’t see for darkness has consumed me whole. I think I can feel my body, but it aches in strange ways. Think! I can’t seem to recall much of anything. I feel my baser instincts trying to kick in. Survive, they scream. However, I find that I’m searching for what brought me into this inky blackness. I’m moving now, but I can’t tell you where to or what towards because it’s nothing in every direction. Panic is setting in. I’m trying to breathe, but that seems foreign to me. Remember…
               I remember something. A family. Mine? Yes, mine. These thoughts are slowly streaming back. Hazy, as if echoes. I’m concentrating, as if on the brink of losing this connection. The images in my mind are becoming slightly sharper. I can make out one boy, one girl… and my wife. Yes, that’s it. We’re in the family van and it’s night time. I’ve got these images, but it’s difficult for me to settle on them. The very last thing before the darkness I can remember is pain.
               A light! I can see a sliver of light! It feels like it’s a million miles away, but if I can somehow move these aching limbs I can escape this void. It’s as hard a task as remembering. The crash. As I move, I’m remembering: The bastard ran a stop sign. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. The crunch of the impact, our car in flight – the first roll, the second turn over and then succumbing to the darkness.
               The light is my way out. It’s my way back into the real world. I thirst for it and it’s growing. It has grown from a sliver to a giant crack. I can already feel the warmth from it and it is good. I hope my family is safe. They should be, the van won all sorts of safety awards. I’m still worrying, though, for them and myself. Once I emerge from this cocoon of nothingness, what state will I be in?
               I hope I’m not dead. The light is growing and it’s all the more appealing to me. The light at the end of the tunnel. Heaven. I don’t want to be dead. I don’t even believe in any of that religious crap, anyway. Oh God, if I am dying – please don’t take that seriously. I want to live, but if there is an afterlife, please don’t make me go to the other place just because I didn’t believe.
               I crawl just a little further, moving limb over limb. I can’t tell where my body begins and where my body ends, this process is numbing. That light – my god, it’s brilliant. The closer I get, the better I can see it. A light like I have never before seen in my life! I need to see even more of it. I can’t even think beyond this light.
               It’s like love, sex and pure joy. The colors, I can see so many colors in the light. A million glittering rainbows are cascading over me, wrapping me in a blanket of immeasurable warmth. I’ve never seen some of these colors before! Wait… I was trying to hold on to something, it’s right there… on the edge of my mind… but, oh! Is this light amazing, or what?
               I want to be with this light forever, have its awe inspiring hues rain down on me. I’m as close as I can possibly get now, here is where I will stay. I don’t want anything other than this magnificent feeling. I don’t care for any other existence. This must be heaven I –
               Pain. Familiar, excruciating. It washes over me, suddenly. I feel the light growing distant, once again. I can see little, out of one eye. I turn it round, trying to make out shapes. It’s a person. They’re… gigantic. I’ve never seen anyone even one millionth their size. I’m losing consciousness. The giant is moving his mouth and speaking:
               “Don’t worry, I’ve got it! The little bug is dead, so you can stop crying! Wasn’t even a threat to you. It probably would have crawled in the light fixture and died, anyway.”
               The whole world has faded away, now. I can’t see for darkness has consumed me whole.