Month: May 2012 Page 1 of 2

Ebook Pricing, Marketing, and Promotions: Promotions

I’ve been trying a bunch of different ebook pricing, marketing, and promotions strategies.  While you shouldn’t consider me an expert by any means, I have come away with some lessons.  The first post is here; the ongoing series is here.

Promotions

The best thing you can do to promote your story is to start with reviews.  Get some reviews.  This is a painful lesson I’m in the middle of learning.  Reviews?  Get them.

  • At Amazon, the first reviews you get are the ones that stay at the top of your reviews forever.  Beg for a friend to write you a good one.  I’m not sure whether this is true across all sites.
  • If you do not have reviews (or have a bunch of crappy reviews), all the advertising in the world (free or otherwise) won’t do you jack.  Many sites won’t post notification of your free book if you don’t have decent reviews.
  • If you put your book up for free, you will get bad reviews.  (Something I’ve noticed on Goodreads is that any relatively well-known book has them, too.  It’s like…pushing yourself into free means that you’re pushing yourself into the realm of people who weren’t meant to read your book, just as being relatively well-known pushes your book out to people who weren’t meant to read it either.  “Fine!  I’ll read this stupid book that you loved so much, Grandma!!11!!”)
  • Try the free promotions first.
  • Have 1-2 books per pen name up for free (not in Amazon’s Kindle Direct Select program; see below) across all sites at any given time; rotate your free books in and out every 3 months or so.  This will tend to boost sales across all stories for that pen name.
  • To get books to go free across all sites: upload to Smashwords and set price to free.  Let Smashwords push the book to B&N (take it down from B&N’s PubIt if you have it up there).  Wait for various sites to pick it up as free.  As the book starts to go free across sites, you will tend to see a rise in sales on the sites where it’s not free yet.  How to make it not free: change the Smashwords price, take the B&N version down at Smashwords and put it up at B&N’s PubIt, and wait for it to go back to non-free.  If Amazon takes maddeningly long to catch up (especially on non-US sites), then contact them via Amazon Author Central Help to have it flipped back.  Most other sites (Kobo, Sony, Apple, B&N) must be non-free in order for Amazon to flip a story back to non-free.  You should see a boost in sales when a book flips back to paid sales; you should also see several returns, as people who didn’t notice it wasn’t free bought and returned it.
  • Do not take an existing book and put it in Kindle Direct Select (the exclusive program).  You risk getting screwed because some other site doesn’t take down their version fast enough.
  • Do not put a book in Kindle Direct Select unless you have: a) 4-5 good reviews on Amazon, b) a number of sites set up to promote your free days heavily (think Ereader News Today and more).  If you’re giving a book away for free to the general public, give a crapload of them away. Update: I mean, don’t put it up for FREE using that program until you get your reviews and extra sites set up.  Obviously, to get the reviews, you have to put up the book first.  Sheesh…
  • IF you do a good job prepping for your free days, you should see a lot of downloads (at least in the thousands) AND you should see about 7-8 days of boosted sales.  Wait until after the 7-8 days to mentally decide whether your book has taken off or not.
  • Your subsequent free days won’t garner as many downloads as the first day, given the same amount of promotion.
  • Do NOT use your subsequent free days if your sales are good; you’ll get bumped off your paid sales ranking, which will make you lose sales.
  • My Kindle Direct Select recommendation at the moment is: don’t do it if you’re not willing to babysit.  This is more than likely a short-term boost, if any.  If you want to make sure you’re giving away the greatest number of ebooks to the greatest number of people, I recommend getting the books to go free the hard way, then using the regular free-ebook-promotion sites to promote your books.  I also recommend if you use Kindle Direct Select, that you only use it for 90 days, then upload across all sites.  You can upload a print book whenever; Select doesn’t affect print books (at the moment, as far as I can tell).
  • Ads:  I’ve taken out two.  Neither of them did squat for sales, although they had a lot of clicks.  Admittedly, not a big sample, though.

Coming Friday: Social Media

Ebook Marketing, Pricing, and Promotions: Marketing

I’ve been trying a bunch of different ebook pricing, marketing, and promotions strategies.  While you shouldn’t consider me an expert by any means, I have come away with some lessons.  The first post is here; the ongoing series is here.

Roughly, marketing is making sure that if you catch someone’s eye with promotion, the information they need is available, complete, and appealing enough to get them to buy the book.  If promotion is a resume, then marketing is your job interview.

Marketing

If it’s a decent story at a decent price, you should have at least some sales.  If not, I’d say check the following, in this order:

  • Sample.  If your sample’s crappy, that’s bad marketing.  Check your samples to make sure there IS a sample, it’s formatted decently, and has actual sample material of your story, instead of just the table of contents or whatnot.  I would check this every time you post a story, not waiting to see if you get sales or not.
  • Genre. Picking the correct genre is not as obvious as it may seem, especially if you write the story without concern for genre.  Which, honestly, sometimes you have to do.  I’d say the first thing to look at, in case of truly crappy sales, is genre.  I have a number of short stories that sold ZIP until I switched genre.
  • Blurb.  I wrote a number of what I thought were perfectly acceptable blurbs at the time, then rewrote them with the eyes of a year’s experience.  Sales went up on some, not on others.  Don’t be afraid to switch these to see what’s working and what’s not.  I’m tempted to try switching some on B&N and not on Amazon to see whether sales go up on one site but not the other.  In fact, that’s probably a good tactic for switching anything:  do it on one site, and see if sales go up relative for that site.
  • Cover.  Right now, I’m pondering whether my covers reflect their genres, and how to change them if not.  I haven’t dug too deeply into this one yet; it’s important, but I have some stories with great covers that aren’t selling well, so if you’re having issues – I’d check the other, easier elements first, then go back to the cover if nothing else works.
  • Give it time.  Don’t start second-guessing yourself until, like, six months to a year.  Gain experience by writing more stuff and putting it up: some patterns only reveal themselves across different books.

Coming Thursday: Promotions

 

 

Ebook Pricing, Marketing, and Promotions: Pricing

I’ve been trying a bunch of different ebook pricing, marketing, and promotions strategies.  While you shouldn’t consider me an expert by any means, I have come away with some lessons.  The first post is here; the ongoing series is here.

Pricing

Short stories seem to be in the $.99 range for me.  I experimented with pricing some longer/better selling stories at $2.99 (I did a double, too, with one longer story and one bonus story).  I priced a couple of longer shorts at $1.49, but sales died on those, too. Sales dropped off overall on short stories, and went to zilch for the $2.99 stories.  (The short story dropoff may have been due to pulling the free stories, too; see Promotions for more on that.)  Sales have come back up on most short stories since I changed all to $.99.

The pricing on novels didn’t affect sales all that much.  I priced Alien Blue at: $2.99, $4.99, $5.99, $6.99, and $7.99.  $7.99 made three sales (at least two of whom being people I knew).  The rest of the sales for the other prices were very nearly the same; I’m leaving novels at $5.99 for now.

Novellas are troublesome, as in I have trouble selling them.  I have the same problem with collections.  I’ll have to start messing around with their pricing structure and other elements, too…

Coming Tuesday: Marketing

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Ebook Pricing, Marketing, and Promotions: Basic Lessons

I’ve been trying a bunch of different ebook pricing, marketing, and promotions strategies.  While you shouldn’t consider me an expert by any means, I have come away with some lessons.  I’ll keep posting these over the next week.

Overall

  • What works today in any of these areas may not work tomorrow, so keep an eye open and don’t put all eggs in one basket.  Alternatively, if you find a new basket, you may want to try putting some eggs in it.
  • Don’t be afraid to mess around with anything; if it’s not selling, it’s not like you’re going to kill sales or anything.
  • Get a tracking program, so your feel for what is/is not working is based on numbers instead of pure emotion.  No matter how rational you think you are. (I’m using Trackerbox and really, really like it.)
  • Don’t forget to keep writing – and don’t forget to keep getting better.  You didn’t get into epublishing so you could not write.  It’s more important to stay excited about writing than it is to be perfect.
  • There is no guaranteed method to bootstrap yourself as an author, no matter what anyone says.  Try a bunch of stuff.  Wishing for a magic bootstrap fairy is for suckers.
  • Test your writing ability by submitting short stories to different markets, if possible.  It increases networking, is a marketing tool, and promotes your other work every time something else is published.
  • My newsletter is fun, but I don’t know if it does much for sales.
  • Give people things:  information, amusement.  It’s not about YOU.  The reason that people say things like, “Steven King could sell his grocery list” is that if he wrote a grocery list with the intent of selling it as a short story…it would give the reader something they didn’t have before.  If your main sales tactic is “Hey, I wrote a book, you should buy it, here’s a review, I have no opinions because I’m too scared of pissing someone off, la la la, buy my book,” then zzzzz.
  • Take risks.  You didn’t get into epublishing to be safe.  Just, you know, don’t rip anybody off.  That kind of risk is just dumb.
  • Whenever you work with someone on a book, even if you pay them, offer them a free copy of whatever they worked on.  Great googly moogly!  If you have a story published in an anthology, you expect a copy, don’t you?
  • By extension, don’t be cheap if there’s no point to being cheap.

Coming on Monday: Ebook Pricing.

Editing for Indie Writers: Copyediting Checklist Part 3 (Line edits)

The indie editing series continues (starts here but the collective posts are here).

The line-editing saga continues!  Remember: use your style sheet, follow the five (or six) Cs, and the author’s vision supersedes other considerations.  If you’re not sure what the actual rules of any given point are, look them up;  if you disagree, note it on your style sheet.

Check that:

Verbs

  • Sentences contain verbs in correct tense, person, and number (look up irregular verbs).
  • Transitive verbs take an object and intransitive verbs don’t.
  • Linking verbs (seem, look, feel) don’t outweigh active verbs
  • Phrasal verbs (get up, run off) are replaced with active verbs (if necessary)
  • Auxiliary verb phrases are kept as short as possible (“it will have been necessary to have seen it” to “we needed to see it”); this often goes with unnecessary passive verb phrasing.
  • Passive verb phrasing is not used unnecessarily.
  • Incorrect participials (words/phrases that look like verbs but act like adjectives/adverbs) are used correctly, especially ones that act like misplaced modifiers (“running around the yard, Grandpa watched the chicken from his rocker”).
  • Excessive participials aren’t -inging and -eding every couple of sentences.
  • Gerunds (words that look like verbs but act like nouns, like “my favorite activity is reading,” which does not mean that my favorite activity has just opened up a good book) are used correctly.
  • The subjunctive mood is used correctly, if used at all.
  • Note: Leave split infinitives alone except in places where it would be out of character not to do so (e.g., a grammarian of the old school wouldn’t split their infinitives).

Adverbs

  • Excessive adverbs are trimmed, especially where they replace the use of more descriptive verbs (“ran quickly” vs. “raced”), describe dialogue unnecessarily (‘@#$%^&*()@#$ %^&*()!@,’ he said foully”), or stack up (“really, truly, and very, very big”).
  • Adjectives aren’t used in place of adverbs (“he runs funny”); however, note that it may be in character to do so.
  • Adverbs of degree (“good, better, best”) are used correctly.  The superlative degree is only for the most impressive item being compared, and requires at least three things to compare (“the best of the three”).  Otherwise, use the comparative (“the better of the two”).
  • Uncomparable adverbs, like “perfect” aren’t compared — there is no “perfecter” or “more perfect,” except in paradoxes.
  • Adverbs are as close to the word they modify as possible.

Prepositions

  • Only one preposition is used in a phrase, if possible (e.g., change “take it off of the shelf” to “take it off the shelf”).
  • Prepositional phrases are as close to the word they modify as possible to prevent misplaced modifiers.
  • If you end up repeating a word twice due to a preposition (“he goes in in the morning”), then rephrase (i.e., don’t add a comma between the two or ignore it).
  • Prepositional phrases aren’t stacked (“we went into the house on the hill with the gravel road in the middle of the woods by the stream,” etc.).
  • Note: Leave sentences ending with prepositions alone unless required.

Conjunctions

  • Coordinating and correlative conjunctions (and/but/etc.) coordinate equivalent things (“It was neither here nor there”).  Each equivalent element should be phrased as similarly as possible.
  • Final conjunctions (consequently, for, hence, so, thus, therefore, etc.) show causation (“I was lost; hence, I asked for directions”).
  • Note: It’s fine to begin a sentence with a conjunction.  But it must join the current sentence to the previous one in the same manner as it would if both sentences were clauses in a single sentence.

Interjections

  • Interjections are set off by commas or are in separate sentences (“What were you thinking, you idiot?” or “What were you thinking?  You idiot!”).
  • Names are set off if they are being used as interjections (“DeAnna, what were you thinking?” or “DeAnna!  What were you thinking?”).

Word Usage

  • Word usage (e.g., is it “lie” or “lay”? “A lot” or “alot”?) is correct.  I recommend scanning through a list of commonly misused words (such as one in your style guide or Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words).  You will probably be surprised what you didn’t know.  I was, and I like this stuff.

Right.  Next up:  Punctuation checklists…

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Free fiction: Beware the Easter Moon

My kids’ story, Beware the Easter Moon, is available on Kindle for free this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  (It’s exclusive on Amazon until, um, July something, so if you need a copy in another format, contact me.)

Beware the Easter Moon Cover

Beware the Easter Moon

by De Kenyon


Colin’s tired of Grandpa stealing kids’ chocolate Easter eggs. So he hatches a plan to make his Granpa eat one of last year’s Easter eggs. One of the regular kind. That stinks when it gets rotten.

It was a terrible plan. But it was also a great plan.

He just shouldn’t have gone outside at the farm to get the egg on the night of the full moon before Easter.

Colin sneaked out of his grandpa’s big old creepy white house with the tree branches that scratched the windows and the heaters that went hunk hunk hunk all night long while his pile of cousins slept, drooling and farting and snoring.

Grandpa didn’t lock his doors, because he lived a long ways away from anybody else, but his shotgun was on a shelf in the closet, too high to reach unless Colin dragged one of the big silver and green chairs out of the sunroom and into the entryway and stood on it to see. Grandpa always said it was for coyotes.

But all Colin wanted to do was get his egg.

He grabbed his coat off a wire hanger in the closet and stepped into Grandpa’s boots, because Grandpa’s boots were always muddy, no matter what Grandma said, and nobody would notice in the morning if they weren’t clean.

He slowly turned the handle and slowly pulled on the door, but it wouldn’t open and he jerked on it hard and then it almost hit the wall.

But he caught it.

Then he slowly opened the creaking screen door and slowly shut both doors behind him.

The stoop looked white at first because the moon was so bright. But his eyes adjusted, and he tiptoed with the big dried-mud boots down the hard old steps as quietly as he could. The sharp steps had already cut his cousin Maria right across her eyebrow.

A gate creaked and slammed against the post. The trees scratched the windows. The ground was white from the storm and the moon, and the threes only cast thin shadows on the ground.

He liked Grandpa’s farm better when the leaves were out in the summer and the wind whispered through them like the running of a river. But now it was so quiet he could hear the coyotes out in the pastures. And it was cold enough to bite his ears and get up his nose and smell like nothing and make his nose drip.

But he wouldn’t be out here long.

He went out the gate, and it creaked when he opened it, but it always creaked and slammed all night in the breeze anyway. One ear was already colder than the other, and he wished he’d brought a hat.

He went down the muddy path to the chicken coop, where the chickens were all sleeping inside the dark building. The coyote howled again, and Colin started running as fast as Grandpa’s boots would let him.

The egg was behind the chicken coop.

It wasn’t a regular chicken egg. It was a last-year Easter egg.

He crunched through the snow, not caring about the loud sound so much as wanting to get back in the house as fast as he could. But his feet sank in and the hard snow tried to take Grandpa’s boots off, so he had to bend over and pull Grandpa’s boots out of the snow with his bare hands and his foot still in it.

The coyote sounded a lot closer now.

Colin looked into the cow pasture, which had a tall, square-wire fence all along the edge so the cows didn’t get out. The snow was deeper on this side, with long strings of dead grass all the way through it. On the other side it was empty and white and went up a long hill with two brown streaks of road for Grandpa’s tractor tires as he took hay out to the cows in a hay trailer and Colin and all the cousins would throw it out to the cows, who would eat it from between the bars of the trailer while they were still moving.

He didn’t see anything on the hill, so he went around the corner of the chicken coop and stomped a hole in the top of the snow.

Carefully, he dug down through the snow to the ground.

Please be there, please be there.

His hand scraped the top of something harder than snow and he saw it: the egg.

Free fiction: Beware the Easter Moon

My kids’ story, Beware the Easter Moon, is available on Kindle for free this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  (It’s exclusive on Amazon until, um, July something, so if you need a copy in another format, contact me.)

Beware the Easter Moon Cover

Beware the Easter Moon

by De Kenyon


Colin’s tired of Grandpa stealing kids’ chocolate Easter eggs. So he hatches a plan to make his Granpa eat one of last year’s Easter eggs. One of the regular kind. That stinks when it gets rotten.

It was a terrible plan. But it was also a great plan.

He just shouldn’t have gone outside at the farm to get the egg on the night of the full moon before Easter.

Colin sneaked out of his grandpa’s big old creepy white house with the tree branches that scratched the windows and the heaters that went hunk hunk hunk all night long while his pile of cousins slept, drooling and farting and snoring.

Grandpa didn’t lock his doors, because he lived a long ways away from anybody else, but his shotgun was on a shelf in the closet, too high to reach unless Colin dragged one of the big silver and green chairs out of the sunroom and into the entryway and stood on it to see. Grandpa always said it was for coyotes.

But all Colin wanted to do was get his egg.

He grabbed his coat off a wire hanger in the closet and stepped into Grandpa’s boots, because Grandpa’s boots were always muddy, no matter what Grandma said, and nobody would notice in the morning if they weren’t clean.

He slowly turned the handle and slowly pulled on the door, but it wouldn’t open and he jerked on it hard and then it almost hit the wall.

But he caught it.

Then he slowly opened the creaking screen door and slowly shut both doors behind him.

The stoop looked white at first because the moon was so bright. But his eyes adjusted, and he tiptoed with the big dried-mud boots down the hard old steps as quietly as he could. The sharp steps had already cut his cousin Maria right across her eyebrow.

A gate creaked and slammed against the post. The trees scratched the windows. The ground was white from the storm and the moon, and the threes only cast thin shadows on the ground.

He liked Grandpa’s farm better when the leaves were out in the summer and the wind whispered through them like the running of a river. But now it was so quiet he could hear the coyotes out in the pastures. And it was cold enough to bite his ears and get up his nose and smell like nothing and make his nose drip.

But he wouldn’t be out here long.

He went out the gate, and it creaked when he opened it, but it always creaked and slammed all night in the breeze anyway. One ear was already colder than the other, and he wished he’d brought a hat.

He went down the muddy path to the chicken coop, where the chickens were all sleeping inside the dark building. The coyote howled again, and Colin started running as fast as Grandpa’s boots would let him.

The egg was behind the chicken coop.

It wasn’t a regular chicken egg. It was a last-year Easter egg.

He crunched through the snow, not caring about the loud sound so much as wanting to get back in the house as fast as he could. But his feet sank in and the hard snow tried to take Grandpa’s boots off, so he had to bend over and pull Grandpa’s boots out of the snow with his bare hands and his foot still in it.

The coyote sounded a lot closer now.

Colin looked into the cow pasture, which had a tall, square-wire fence all along the edge so the cows didn’t get out. The snow was deeper on this side, with long strings of dead grass all the way through it. On the other side it was empty and white and went up a long hill with two brown streaks of road for Grandpa’s tractor tires as he took hay out to the cows in a hay trailer and Colin and all the cousins would throw it out to the cows, who would eat it from between the bars of the trailer while they were still moving.

He didn’t see anything on the hill, so he went around the corner of the chicken coop and stomped a hole in the top of the snow.

Carefully, he dug down through the snow to the ground.

Please be there, please be there.

His hand scraped the top of something harder than snow and he saw it: the egg.

Free fiction: Beware the Easter Moon

My kids’ story, Beware the Easter Moon, is available on Kindle for free this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  (It’s exclusive on Amazon until, um, July something, so if you need a copy in another format, contact me.)

Beware the Easter Moon Cover

Beware the Easter Moon

by De Kenyon


Colin’s tired of Grandpa stealing kids’ chocolate Easter eggs. So he hatches a plan to make his Granpa eat one of last year’s Easter eggs. One of the regular kind. That stinks when it gets rotten.

It was a terrible plan. But it was also a great plan.

He just shouldn’t have gone outside at the farm to get the egg on the night of the full moon before Easter.

Colin sneaked out of his grandpa’s big old creepy white house with the tree branches that scratched the windows and the heaters that went hunk hunk hunk all night long while his pile of cousins slept, drooling and farting and snoring.

Grandpa didn’t lock his doors, because he lived a long ways away from anybody else, but his shotgun was on a shelf in the closet, too high to reach unless Colin dragged one of the big silver and green chairs out of the sunroom and into the entryway and stood on it to see. Grandpa always said it was for coyotes.

But all Colin wanted to do was get his egg.

He grabbed his coat off a wire hanger in the closet and stepped into Grandpa’s boots, because Grandpa’s boots were always muddy, no matter what Grandma said, and nobody would notice in the morning if they weren’t clean.

He slowly turned the handle and slowly pulled on the door, but it wouldn’t open and he jerked on it hard and then it almost hit the wall.

But he caught it.

Then he slowly opened the creaking screen door and slowly shut both doors behind him.

The stoop looked white at first because the moon was so bright. But his eyes adjusted, and he tiptoed with the big dried-mud boots down the hard old steps as quietly as he could. The sharp steps had already cut his cousin Maria right across her eyebrow.

A gate creaked and slammed against the post. The trees scratched the windows. The ground was white from the storm and the moon, and the threes only cast thin shadows on the ground.

He liked Grandpa’s farm better when the leaves were out in the summer and the wind whispered through them like the running of a river. But now it was so quiet he could hear the coyotes out in the pastures. And it was cold enough to bite his ears and get up his nose and smell like nothing and make his nose drip.

But he wouldn’t be out here long.

He went out the gate, and it creaked when he opened it, but it always creaked and slammed all night in the breeze anyway. One ear was already colder than the other, and he wished he’d brought a hat.

He went down the muddy path to the chicken coop, where the chickens were all sleeping inside the dark building. The coyote howled again, and Colin started running as fast as Grandpa’s boots would let him.

The egg was behind the chicken coop.

It wasn’t a regular chicken egg. It was a last-year Easter egg.

He crunched through the snow, not caring about the loud sound so much as wanting to get back in the house as fast as he could. But his feet sank in and the hard snow tried to take Grandpa’s boots off, so he had to bend over and pull Grandpa’s boots out of the snow with his bare hands and his foot still in it.

The coyote sounded a lot closer now.

Colin looked into the cow pasture, which had a tall, square-wire fence all along the edge so the cows didn’t get out. The snow was deeper on this side, with long strings of dead grass all the way through it. On the other side it was empty and white and went up a long hill with two brown streaks of road for Grandpa’s tractor tires as he took hay out to the cows in a hay trailer and Colin and all the cousins would throw it out to the cows, who would eat it from between the bars of the trailer while they were still moving.

He didn’t see anything on the hill, so he went around the corner of the chicken coop and stomped a hole in the top of the snow.

Carefully, he dug down through the snow to the ground.

Please be there, please be there.

His hand scraped the top of something harder than snow and he saw it: the egg.

 

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