Posts Tagged ‘writing’

How to Get 16,000 Downloads of Your Novel in 2 Days

Image16,100. That’s the number of free copies of Shepherd’s Moon I just gave away during a two-day promotion in May on Amazon’s Lending program. Did I plan for that many to go out? Not in a million years.

Many people, mostly fellow self-published authors, have expressed interest in how I accomplished this feat. The truth is, it was the result of a LOT of luck and a lot of planning. I didn’t have a single penny to put towards advertising, which is one more reason I’m thrilled about the outcome – it didn’t cost me anything other than the $50k in royalties (flinch) I potentially lost (more about that later).

I promised a detailed post on how I organized this promotion. So let’s take a look at the marketing plan (such as it is) that I organized prior to this giveaway.

The saga began back in October, 2011 when I first made Shepherd’s Moon available to the public. After the first month, I collected data and went back into my editors chair to make changes. The beauty of self-publishing a novel is the ability to edit after a release (although I don’t recommend doing that – more on that later). With two more sets of changes behind me, I made the book available to several Goodreads groups. (Trust me when I say that this move is not for the feint of heart). There are some amazing people on Goodreads. If you can confidently read the constructive reviews and ignore the mean-spirited ones (of which there were only one or two) without getting upset, you’ll be able to extract some helpful advice that you can apply to your future work.There are many remarkably skilled readers and reviewers on GoodReads and it is a really great place for calm authors who have the hide of a rhino.

The move netted me over 20 reviews and over 30 ratings. With another set of changes in hand from the groups suggestions, I hit the editing room again.

Sales began in earnest, and I averaged a respectable rank for the first few months on Amazon. Not great, but certainly not horrible for an indie author with no marketing budget (whatsoever)!

I decided I needed to try something else to get word out and joined the Kindle Lending program I’d heard so much about from fellow authors. I scheduled a two-day promotion in mid-May, and then I set about notifying the big indie promoters to see if they would feature my novel on their site. Because I followed their extensive submission guidelines and already had excellent reviews on the novel, all of them agreed to run the promotion. This part of the process took nearly two weeks of highly focused writing and preparation.

I created original guest posts, interviews, sneak peaks, and press releases and scheduled social networking across the social networking world. If the website offered a free option for being featured, I took them up on it. Each post was scheduled to run on blogs and specialty sites (listed below) on specific days. The day the promotion went live, Indies Unlimited, Indie Author News, Indie Book List, and Pixel of Ink all carried the story. That made all the difference. These groups work VERY hard to help out new authors and have continued to retweet, post and forward the links on to their readers. I highly recommend them all (particularly the first two!)

When I awoke the morning of the promotion, I already had over 2,000 downloads. As I hit the refresh button on my phone, the number increased by 100-500 a minute. All Day.

And, that’s how I spent the next 48 hours. Hitting the refresh button…

The final count was 16,100 downloads in two days. For a very short time, I hit my high points at:

In the US:

  • #3 on Thrillers
  • #7 Bestseller Kindle

In Germany

  • #1 in Thrillers
  • #5 Bestseller Kindle

In the UK

  • #3 in Thrillers
  • #7 Bestseller Kindle

In Spain

  • #6 Thriller

In Italy

  • Where’s the love, Italy???

(And yes – before you ask – I can document everything). This was all accomplished with no money (at all) for advertising, in competition (sort of) with the release of Shades of Grey (don’t get me started on that mess), while Hunger Games (yay!) still dominated my category.

As for the end result of this promotion? I’m not sure yet… Sales have risen dramatically, but I’m not a bestseller (paid) yet. Over 20,000 people know about my novel. I understand that it is now possible to watch your sales multiply by thousands within hours. Those are all great things that have come of this experience.

On the other hand, it’s completely unnerving that I potentially lost over $50,000 in royalties. My sales ranking slipped after the promotion from a steady 5,000 to a steady 76,000 (despite steady sales).

I still don’t understand Amazon’s ranking system (and I think they design it that way).

It is my intense hope that even 10% of those who downloaded the book will actually read it, comment (hopefully favorably) and maybe recommend the novel to friends. I also hope that people will want to read the next book in the series (entitled, “Blood of the Shepherd”).  

And if all of those wishes come true in some perfectly entwined cosmic connection, it just may be possible for me to one day make a living writing fiction…I sure hope so!


Secret of a Successful Writer: Show up

ImageThis morning, as I sat in front of my desktop computer waiting for an update to load, I browsed through several blogs on my iPad, checked my email on my phone and suddenly realized something: I have become so connected that I am now disconnected.

I have been so “connected” with social networking and websites and email over the past four years that I have actually become “disconnected” with actual humans. This is a real problem for me. As a writer, it’s my job to bridge the gap – not be the gap.

In my teens, I used to be an adventurer. I was the person out there hiking through the Superstition Mountains searching for lost gold mines and finding tarantulas in their backpack. I was the person who took off for a year and lived in my car with two wolf hybrids just so I could see the country. It was then that I was truly an artist.

In my twenties, I calmed down (or at least made a concerted effort to calm down) and became a “businessperson.” I bought a house, worked, vacationed every summer, and did the 9-5 thing. I hated my life.

In my thirties, I took it a step further and finally got married. Which actually was (and still is) the best thing that ever happened to me. The kid thing has never held any appeal for me – besides the fact that I can have them anyway, babies scare the crap out of me; I would hate to screw up another living creature. So, I substituted animals for kids – mostly because I like animals better (and personally I think they are better adjusted than most people).

The one consistency in my life has been writing. I’ve kept a journal since I was old enough to hold a pen, and I’ve written about everything… From poetry to articles, blogs to novels – for the last twenty years, I’ve been able to make a living (however meager) by putting pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard.

And I learned, most importantly (and mostly the hard way), that the most successful writers are not successful because they’re talented and amazing – they are successful because they are consistent and engaged.

The minute you miss a column delivery date, you lose a client. The day you neglect to finish an article because its too hard to find that elusive closing statement, you lose a gig. The week you miss an email delivery of a newsletter, you lose a reader. The year you miss putting out that novel, you lose the potential to be a bestseller. But, most importantly, the second you fall prey to reviews, listen to critics, or forget to be true to your voice that playful inner being that scripts out the scenes in your head; you lose your ability to write. 

Here’s a secret: Writing is not about being the best; it’s about being the most consistent. And I suppose the same can be said for life.

Half the battle is just showing up.

Its dragging yourself out of bed each morning to face the day, to participate in life with coworkers and friends, to drag yourself to happy hour because you don’t want to lose the opportunity to connect.

This is a lot easier to do when you are single. It’s easy to stay involved. But once you get married and have that security of someone being there for you all the time, it’s easy to slip into obscurity.

So today I’m making a conscious effort to be a participant in life one more. It’s not going to be easy because I don’t really want to do it. I would be perfectly content living in a cave that was completely isolated from every human on the planet if I had internet access and my pets.

I don’t have to become a social butterfly, flitting from event to event. But I do need to attend a function once in awhile and blog about “real things”. I need to let others see me as I am, not as I would have them see me. And really, I need to regain a focus on writing. Whether its blogging or finishing another book or writing a magazine article – it needs to be done for joy, not from obligation.

Those half-finished blog posts that I was too afraid to post because I knew they would be controversial are going to be dusted off and posted. That novel I’ve been working on for the last two years is going live. The website that I’m most well known for is going to be around, but we are taking it the next level – a better level.

So, look for a new me – coming your way soon – sans auto correct.

Chaotic Blog Week in Review

Each evening, I take maybe 20 minutes and read through a huge list of blogs. Those that catch my attention are read all the way through, others are glanced at, and still others will remain undiscovered (by me) forever. To accomplish this feat in a timely manner, I rely on Google Reader and Zite – an app for my iPad that consolidates blog entries on the topics I choose and organizes them into n easy-to-navigate list. Since my interest in blogs is as varied as my interest in life; topics include everything from the obvious: pets, writing, marketing – to the “not so obvious”: conspiracies, environmental, and architecture (et al).

I’m going to give this “weekly posting” thing a try. It may turn into a monthly posting, or no posting at all, but I’m sure you’re not going to care one way or the other. Let’s start off with a quick overview of the Chaotic Blog Week in Review.

Environmentalism meets urban fantasy:

Zom-Bees: Parasitic flies are taking over the minds of honeybees and creating (for lack of a better word), Zom-bees. More details on this fascinating story (and how zombees may impact our own lives) can be found at Eco-centric Blogs Time.

Interesting architecture:

Life in a Tree: I mean “in” a tree, not near the top of a tree or beside a tree. This is a look at some of the amazing architecture that allows you to live life in a tree. This type of architecture is known as “whole tree construction” and you can learn more about it at InHabitat or Whole Tree Architecture.

Aqua Architecture: If you’ve ever wanted to build a home centered around a water feature, this site has some very interesting ideas on how to do that. These dreamlike underwater landscapes come to us courtesy of Takashi Amano, one of the most influential people in the field of freshwater aquascaping, and his firm, Aqua Design Amano.

Anonymous Writer No More: Writers will no longer be anonymous if this group has anything to say about it. Writing under a pseudonym? Have an anonymous blog? Leaving hostile comments on a friends website under an assumed name? You will not be able to hide much longer…

Graduate students at Drexel University have released two stylometry tools designed to identify the author of any writing. This software makes sure anonymity is a thing of the past. It is capable of identifying the author of any comment, any blog, any work of art, or even an email by matching writing styles with the author.

So beware, mean people – your number is up! But if you would like to learn how to avoid detection, be sure to click here.

The Writing Life: Any writer will tell you they have a very different, almost spiritual, relationship to the written word. Reading a book creates an emotional response in us. We understand that there is something spiritual about finding the right word for the right emotion and once we find it, it’s a bit like locating a long lost friend on Facebook.

We find our platform, we broadcast our message, we hope like hell someone reads it. But, if they don’t, its okay. Our life isn’t about making friends or having relationships with people, it’s about finding the right word to convey the correct emotion to elicit the appropriate response. Jenny Hansen, a brilliant new blogger I stumbled across, captures the 10 Unusual Things I Know About Writers that you should also know.

Hope you enjoyed this week in review! What type of blog posts or news stories caught your eye this week?

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