Nothing beats a fresh cup of chai latte right off the press on a cold winter day. For others you may have other drinks in mind whether it be coffee, tea or your mouth may be watering for your favorite dish. During this cold dreary winter, I’m still writing in the convenience and warmth of my house. While I have some decisions I need to make with Before the Legend in terms of whether I should drop the subtitle, I’m busy writing Part 2 Chasing Blue, composing the last chapters of the series. I hope to finish the story by this summer and I only have several more chapters to go. Things are definitely heating up as Troy is faced with new challenges and life-altering decisions that will affect him and those he love. And in Part 2 things will continue to intensify as he’s going to be faced with one of the biggest decisions he’s ever made since running away from home.
I have some new chapters hot off the press. Last week I released “Let it Rain,” the kick start to Part 2: Dark Saga (Part 2 of Chasing Blue). In that chapter the characters face the grim consequences of their seemingly innocent excursion around Rome. Julia finds herself way in over her head when she finds herself alone with Clitus causing suspicions to fly. But in this chapter Troy doesn’t return with the rest of his cousins. The drama that unfolds in that chapter was quite entertaining and intense to write and hopefully it delivers. You can read it here.
Chapter 30 “Stay Alive is the newest chapter out. Things really intensify as readers find out what actually happened to Troy after his confrontation with Maximus in the alley and believe me it’s not pretty! I don’t want to give much away so you’re just going to have to read it to find out in Chapter 30.
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My free book promotion for Before the Legend is officially over as of this week. What was supposed to be a “Free Promo Week” turned more into a month long promo filled with free print giveaways, author interviews, guest spotlights, and of course free eBooks! It was encouraging seeing a significant jump in readers adding my books to their virtual shelves in Goodreads, to new reviews being added on Goodreads and Amazon. I realized after reading David Gaughran’s book, “Let’s Get Visible” I needed to have a free run of my book to give it the exposure it otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. Although there were some hiccups along the way it definitely was a learning experience which I am grateful for. Here are some things I took away from my free run.
- Timing is everything. Well it’s not everything but it is very important. What time of year are you planning it? How long will your free run last? These are some of the biggest questions to ask yourself when scheduling a free run. For those who choose the option to publish exclusively through KDP Select, you have control over not only what month or week you plan to set your eBook free but also exactly how long it will last. You can either use all 5 days within a 90-day period towards your free run or split it up at a time, maximizing on an extra chance to boost downloads and sales. The time you change the price from free to its regular sales price is also critical because you want to capitalize on your book’s exposure while also changing the price just at the right time so you can still reap potential sales from the tail end of the increased traffic to your book.
However if you’re like me and not signed up for it you have to do what we call price-matching. The best way to achieve a uniform price across retailers is to set your book for free via Smashwords, choose Amazon as a distributor, and wait for the other retailers including Amazon to adjust their price to match accordingly. However the time it takes for the price change to occur across all the retailers is very unpredictable which can alter your free run time-table you meticulously planned out. Hence this is why I had to keep extending my promo week. This leads to my next point.
- Expect the Unexpected. What I mean by this is if you aren’t in KDP Select expect delays when your book is set free as well as when you set the price back to its regular cost. Delays are inevitable if you choose price-matching. If you have multiple distributors opted in through Smashwords when you attempt a price-match, the first place that you’ll see your book go free is on Smashwords. But for the actual retailers/distributors involved in can take up to a week or even two weeks for the price to be adjusted accordingly. For Amazon it can even take a few days longer for them to price match and even then it’s up to their discretion. This can frustrate your plans especially if you were planning for a short free run or for a spotlight on a host blog where you hoped to inform readers when exactly your book will be free till. Despite temptation to quickly announce to everyone your book is going free the day you changed the price on Smashwords, it is best to gradually spread the word as the price change takes effect across the many retailers.
- Let the Big Guys Know. It’s important to let others know about your free run so you can get as many downloads in those first few days. To amplify your results, it’s highly recommended to notify certain sites that advertise free or discounted eBooks to it’s large reader audience. The big ones, “Let’s Get Visible” mentions includes BookBub and Pixel of Ink, with the latter being free. Another great one I personally discovered is FreeBooksy. Although I would have loved to use BookBub (although it’s not cheap), they have higher criteria in what books they advertise so I had to settle with FreeBooksy. Overall I was pleased with FreeBooksy. For $50 I garnered a featured spot on their front page for a few days with a link to my work and a post on their Facebook page. Was the advertising offer worth it? I would say so. My downloads jumped to 30-something to over 600 the day it was featured! Also on Amazon my book was #1 for free in its respective categories of Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children’s eBooks > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths > Greek & Roman and was #2 in Alternative History before jumping to the #1 spot briefly.
- Be Realistic. Setting goals is important and helps us to stay focused on a fixed objective as an older post of mines, “Reaching the Goal” elaborated on. You want to set a goal for yourself so that at least you will put some effort into promoting your work, otherwise how do you expect it to do well? For me I like the set the bar low (but not too low). That way if things don’t happen as I would have liked I’m not too disappointed. However when the actual results exceed your previous expectations then you feel that much more thrilled. To many others my results may not seem like much but to me it was a modest success and am learning to take in stride each day in this process.
Overall in addition to the big sites, I spread the love through Facebook, my blog, and Goodreads. Was I successful? Well it depends on what you measure success. In terms of exposure I definitely achieved that goal even if it was fleeting. But in the days after the free run is when I can truly say whether it was a success or not and right now it’s still too early to say. However in the post free era I’m left with the question: What do I now? Well in the meantime while I reflect on the direction of my book Before the Legend, I am turning my attention to my latest story Chasing Blue, which was currently on hiatus. The story is about to awaken with new drama as big decisions fall on Troy’s shoulders. For my loyal followers here’s a sneak peak at the newest chapter from Part 2 of the book: Dark Voyage. In this chapter the characters must face the consequences of their evening excursion as drama unfolds. Everyone is accounted for except one… For those that haven’t read the previous chapter you can read it here. It will give you a better understanding of what’s going on in this chapter I’m getting ready to publish on Wattpad. I will be posting a longer snippet on my page Chasing Blue page.
“Let It Rain”
The rain was falling faster; the drops growing heavier. They trickled down her face, as she forced her eyes open. Her breaths were heavy as she sucked in water and air.
“Clitus…” He nibbled her lips before she could find the words. His hands caressed her shoulder as his grip tightened around her waist.
“I think we should stop,” she blurted. A weak smile escaped her lips as she noted his lips parted from hers. She saw that same glimmer in his eyes which appeared more greenish the more she gazed. It was the same glimmer in his eyes when they arrived together; alone. Her smiled quickly faded, assuring herself that she meant what she said. After all she tried to be firm. He charged forward to kiss her lips again. It was no use. She let his warm breath infuse into the air she breathed. She felt his hands grip creep across her body but she could other hear voices in the distant_
“Um, yes,” she said jolting upright in her seat, dropping her half-eaten bread on the plate. She barely could face her father as he called her name from her wandering mind.
“Your mother was asking you and your brother why you separated from their company. You had Julian and Tiberius worried about you,” her father said before sipping a cup of wine. “If Troy was here, I would be asking him the same question,” he replied briskly.
“I am so sorry, Father. I got distracted,” she said looking down at her plate.
“You seem awfully distant dear. What is going on in that mind of yours?” her mother asked, staring directly at her. Her body went numb at the words.
“Clitus,” Tiberius coughed. Julia flashed him an angry glare.
“Oww!” Tiberius muttered as Julia delivered a kick to his leg. Her cousin banged his knee against the table, rattling the dishes.
“What is wrong?” the mother asked with a frown.
“Nothing.” He lied. Julius’ cheeks swelled with suppressed laughter. Any moment he was about to burst into a laughing fit, but there was nothing funny to Julia.
“May I please be dismissed,” Julia uttered in a rueful voice.
“You have not even finished your main course,” her mother said with a concerned expression.
“Maybe the child is ill,” the grandmother chided. Without waiting for their final word, she got up from the couch and scampered off into her room where she buried her head in the pillows. The scene was playing all over in her mind…
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“You get a car. And you get a car. Everybody gets a car.”
Who remembers this scene from Oprah? Maybe you’re a fan of Oprah and her show (or maybe you never watched her show and don’t care too) yet many people have heard of this unforgettable TV moment by Oprah a couple of years ago after she gave away free cars to all her guests. Just imagine being an audience member when you see the person next to you jumping up and down because they got a key in their box only to find out that you also have the keys to a brand new car. It’s no wonder why her largely female audience went hysterical.
Why am I talking about Oprah? What relevance does she have with self-publishing or even my own stories I blog about? One word.
Virtually everybody likes free things. This is especially true if those free things are things that the intended user would want or need. When it comes to self-publishing you have spent considerable time and effort writing, editing, and rewriting your book. Why? Because you want to produce your best work so others would want to buy it. After all the work you might have poured in for editing, formatting, and creating the book cover (unless you handled most of that on your own) you expect to actually see results of your labor. So naturally you decided on a sale price that will still generate a reasonable profit after you factor royalty rates.
But for self-publishers starting off it can be very hard to get your work noticed in those first few weeks your book goes live for distribution. If your book doesn’t crack the New Release list (for example on Amazon) or fails to be featured on other lists you risk falling by the wayside, losing visibility. If your book isn’t visible, people can’t find it. If people can’t find it they won’t buy it!
This is a lesson I learned all too well in my very first launch. One of the strategies I tried to utilize was what I now called the “Free Promo.” When I first released Before the Legend I set the book for free for a day (more like half a day). To get some downloads I even texted some of my friends and posted about it on my Facebook Fan Page. While the # of downloads weren’t impressive on Smashwords it was notable considering I didn’t tell a huge audience about the free release and it was last minute. The next day I decided to end the free run and raise the price back to the sale price I preferred which was $2.99 the very next day. Big mistake! The downloads I obtained as well as the elevated page views for my author page dropped off sharply. From there I tried other ways to get noticed such as by paying for ads on Facebook and later Goodreads. Although I was getting some interaction and clicks I felt more and more disappointed at the lack of sales.
What went wrong? A lot of things now that I take a step back and take an objective look. Some things are merely out of my control. Some authors simply had a stronger fan base to begin with or bigger marketing platforms to their disposal to catapult their book to the prime spotlight. Obviously I’m an indie author with a limited budget for marketing and advertising so I lacked the fire power that my competitors had. A critical mistake on my part though was rushing to get my book published before it was even ready or even strategizing my launch plan. There were no big platforms that were supporting my work. I had nothing playing in my favor.
Back to Basics
Was my initial strategy wrong? Not necessarily. The principle that free things attracts reader is mostly accurate. Personally I love free things and when a blogger broadcasted he was setting his book for free for a limited time I couldn’t help but jump at the offer before it expired. What I failed to realized was just how powerful the label free can be and I failed to maximize on it to gain more exposure to my work that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to achieve setting it to the standard price. After reevaluating my own missteps and reading Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran, a guide for increasing visibility for self-publishers, I realized I needed to seriously rethink my strategy and even go back to the basics. That meant stopping the ads I was running until I could come up with a more effective approach. That meant going back to get a clean edit of minor punctuation errors. It even meant polishing up on the formatting. (which is never fun when you have to go back and revise your eBook!)
In David’s book he mentioned the different launch strategies one can use amongst many other helpful insight such as choosing the right keywords, understanding Amazon’s algorithms to make the ranking system work in your favor to garner more visibility. One of the best ways to garner publicity for a new title or one that needs a little boost is to run a sale whether it be a 99 cent eBook or free. I hope to combine my free run with the approach he calls “spreading the love” which basically means spreading out the time between the launch and when you actually tell people. I highly recommend his book for all self-publishers and I’ll be discussing more about it (once I finish it) in later posts so stay tuned!
I’m Rethinking Free
So does free still catch your eye? I hope so. Now imagine in that picture at the top of this post that instead of saying you get a free car… you get a free book. So you get a free book and you get a free book… EVERYONE GETS FREE BOOKS (don’t mean to get carried away lol)! I officially announce the start of my Free Promo Week. This week only I will be making my eBook, Before the Legend free on Smashwords where you can download in multiple formats including ePub, Mobi, PDF and more! It’s also free on major retailers including Amazon. Check out my Facebook fan page in the days to come (to your left).
Also starting this Monday I started a free giveaway of my print book. Only 5 copies remain for a limited time only! Click here for more details. These next three weeks anticipate free promotions, giveaways, and more. See the spotlight for my book on Pick Your Poison which showcases my book summary and the special giveaway I’m running these next few weeks. So stay tuned as I rethink my launch strategy and rethink free.
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For readers that weren’t aware I officially published my debut novelette, “Before the Legend.” It’s been a long project of mines stemming all the way back to 2010 and its surreal knowing it’s been finally released for sale. It’s been two weeks since I published the book but these past weeks I’ve been busy 1) perfecting the book, especially the e-book (I decided it will never be perfect lol) and 2) marketing! I will briefly summarize what are the marketing strategies I’ve been utilizing and plan to use. I will also briefly list sale information, which can also be found in the navigation bar, under the link “Before the Legend.”
You have to stand out.
That is the one piece of advice that’s been drilling in my head this week as I crank up the marketing. This week is especially important considering Black Friday is a strategic time to make a sale. In addition to the book trailer I created which is now up on Youtube, I’ve been reaching out to other bloggers for book reviews. Book reviews are essential especially from an unknown author who don’t have the full assistance of a publishing company to give the book needed exposure. A book review, particularly a good solid one, might I stress, can help sway unsure readers to take a chance with your book. In a sea of thousands upon millions of books coming out, I’m already at a great disadvantage.
As it stands though, I have 2 bloggers interested. I won’t be doing a full tour this week (I will provide the date soon. Promotions coming…) but I will be doing a partial tour this week as my work is currently being featured on AwesomeGang, an awesome site that’s geared towards helping indie publishers to get their works out there. My book is featured on their homepage and will be featured up till tomorrow so check out the preview as well as the author interview. My book is also now added to Goodreads so check it out. Goodreads is a great site where reader can discover new works and find what their friends are recommending. It’s also a great site for authors who want to advertise their works because authors can upload their book if it hasn’t already been added to their database. Goodreads also has a system where publishers and authors alike can advertise their works by creating ads that can be targeted to specific groups or to everyone. Personally I’ve found Facebook more effective in getting more engagement for my ads but I’ve used Facebook to gain exposure to my book on Goodreads so we’ll see how that goes.
Updates on Retailers
Video Posted on Updated on
It’s hitting the big screen; well almost.
This evening I released the official book trailer to my debut novelette, Before the Legend. The trailer is now up on YouTube. For my loyal fans, it’s being featured on my Facebook page on the side, and premiering here on Writer’s Nook. Inspired by the first book trailer I made for my story Chasing Blue, I decided a book trailer would be an essential part of my marketing plan for my latest story. It will be going on sale later this week in both print and e-book format. The price for the print book stands currently at $5.99 and $2.99 for the e-book. However there may be promotions coming (hint, hint).
The book is expected to be hitting online retailers in the next 5-7 days but it depends on the specific retailer when they make the title available so it’s too early to say quite yet. The earliest date it will be hitting stores is tentatively November 19th this Tuesday. Expect to see it on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Barnes and Noble and much more in the weeks to come. I will be busy updating the site, which will include more details about the book and how you can purchase it. Expect the latest updates on my Facebook page J.U.Scribe. Now the next thing besides last minute formatting woes for the e-book I have to worry about is obtaining book reviews. I’m kick-starting the tour starting tomorrow. While I’m away enjoy the sneak preview below.