Posts Tagged With: Fantasy Novel

Self Publishing: The First Month – Amazon Ads

Self Publishing Update

So, I’ve now been the self-published author of a novel for a month.  Aside from the free promotion, I haven’t done anything except run ads via the Amazon system.  I feel like I’ve learned something? Maybe?

I think the book is doing pretty well, actually, for being a first novel in a genre that doesn’t typically sell in the indie market.  And for being a book with only four reviews.

I have sold 4 books since I ended the free promotion.  3 of those were hard copy and another 1 was a Kindle copy.  Kindle copies are where I make my money, so it was nice to have one.  The profit margin on the print book is slim (although not nothing, and I’m not really in this for the money anyway at this point).

I also had several Kindle Unlimited pages read, though that’s also hard to break down.  The reports tell me how many pages, since I get paid by the page.  But is it the same people re-picking up the book, or is it new readers?  We’ll never know…

My ads haven’t been working okay.  I’ve never written copy before, nor do I have any experience with advertising, so I’m being gentle with myself about it.  I’ll be rejiggering the ads today to make them better.

You may already know this, but with Kindle ads, you bid on a keyword.  If you’ve bid the most, whenever someone visits a book that’s classified under that keyword, they see your ad.  You pay if they click on it, otherwise it’s free.

I currently have 4 ads running.  On the first, I let Amazon pick my keywords. Hardly anyone has seen the book on this one – about 74.  On two other ads, I have about 450 people who have viewed it, but only one person on each ad has clicked on the ad and the report estimates I haven’t had any sales.  They don’t take Kindle Unlimited into account, though, so I think this might be where I’m getting some of those extra Kindle Unlimited pages from. On my third ad, about 650 people have seen it, but no one has clicked.

I ran the same exact keywords for all three ads I set up myself, so I’m not sure why everyone’s seeing the one and not the others.

So, I have two goals this month.  The first is to re-do the book description on the ad so it’s a little more punchy.  The second thing is to pick better keywords.  Right now, the ones I’m getting the most hits on are the names of other authors.  I plan to add in a greater swath of authors who I think write things that are like this book.  I’ll leave the Amazon auto-target ad alone, probably.

That’s a rundown of the basics.  In addition to redoing the ads, I’m considering a blog tour.  Most authors I’ve seen who have done it say they basically break even – they make about as much in book sales as they paid for the tour.  Still, I think it might be worth it for me from a review perspective.  The blog tour I’m considering would have 15 stops, so that would be 19 reviews on the book once I’m done if you add the ones that are already there.  I’d definitely consider buying a book with 19 reviews, where I’d look askance at 4.

That’s mostly all I have to say. For those who want to get into the nitty-gritty with me on the ad portion, I’ll post a little more detail below.

The book descriptions I went with on the ads are as follows:

  1. What do a spy, a runaway, a subversive print shop, and a queen have in common? Blue Gentian. You won’t be able to put this book down. (450-ish views)
  2. “Love at first page!” Looking for something new to read? You just found your next favorite epic fantasy with a strong female lead. (450-ish views)
  3. Traditional fantasy gets a makeover in this epic coming-of-age tale about leaving home to find it. You won’t be able to put this book down! (650-ish views)

I went with these descriptions partly because I read a book that told me that ads with “you” in them tend to do better than ads that don’t.

In this next cycle of ads, I intend to run descriptions 1 and 2, but not 3.  I also intend to run one that says “If Lord of the Rings and Little Women had a baby, Blue Gentian would be it. You’ll love this epic fantasy about leaving home to find it.”

I ran the following Keywords:

action, adventure, caravan, coming of age, council, epic, fantasy, female voice, gentian, healer, intrigue, kwed, little women, low magic, medicine, mission, notlimah, printing, queen, quest, shaman, spy, strong female lead, sword, tolkien, traditional fantasy, travel, travelers, traveling, wise woman, young adult

BY FAR Tolkien got me the most views.  Wise woman, shaman, and travel got me the next most, although I’m not sure travel is really doing for me what I’d like it to do.

This month I’ll add:

Shannon Hale, Le Guin, Dianna Wynne Jones, Chrestomanci, Uprooted, Naomi Novik, Wheel of Time, Rothfuss, Jane Austen, Jeff Wheeler, Veronica Roth, Sarah J. Maas, Harry Potter, Patricia C. Wrede

I may also take out some of the others that are probably deceptive (like travel), although it doesn’t cost me anything to bid unless the ad gets clicked on.  We’ll see where that gets me, and I’ll report back in another month!

Here we go…

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Categories: Self Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heroes and Villains

Camp Nanowrimo is going well-ish.  My word count has exploded, but the point was to write 4 whole short stories (and not 50,000 words), so I’m feeling a little behind.  The Golden Apple story went like gang-busters for a while but seems to have stalled out.  Brian and I discussed it this weekend, and I think it’s because the About is more in line with WWII than the Great War, and so it doesn’t quite fit.  Also, needs more Greek Gods (which could be said of everything, really).

I swore to myself that I would actually post a book review this week, since it’s been a while.  I am still working on the 2016 reading challenge, and plugging away at it.  This week?  A book that makes me want to be a hero, and a book that makes me want to be a villain.

bluesword

The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley:

I have long been a huge fan of McKinley’s The Hero and The Crown, about an outcast of a royal woman, Aerin, who experiments with a non-burning salve used to fight dragons, and ends up being the savior of her people (along with a busted-up war horse).  I hadn’t read The Blue Sword, though I knew it was considered the sequel.  It wasn’t available on kindle until fairly recently, and isn’t available in most stores.

I found it, though, at a little used bookstore by the train station where I pick Brian up some days.  I bought it immediately and read it so fast.  Best find ever.

It’s about an orphan, Harry Crewe, who moves to be near her brother at a military outpost in the desert.  When a mountain king comes to the village to ask for military aid, his second-sight tells him to kidnap Harry and take her with him back to his kingdom.  She comes into her own, becoming one of the kings sacred riders and besting the country at the sword trials.  She communes with Lady Aerin, falls for the king, and saves a country herself.

It’s full of hard tasks and bad choices, but of trust and valor.  It makes me want to learn to ride a horse with nothing but a small leather cushion on the back.  It makes me want to live in a tent with a king and drink waters that make me have visions.  It makes me want to wear a mended scarf around my waist, and to find a home among other people with strange ways.  Even if they do start calling me Harimad Sol.

So, Harry Crewe makes me want to be a hero.

silver-on-the-road-9781481429689_hr

Silver on the Road, by Laura Anne Gilman:

Kindle has been recommending me this book for a very long time, in the way it recommends things I end up disliking.  I finally read the synopsis of it, and was sort of expecting it to be a worse version of Patricia C. Wrede’s Frontier Magic.  I figured that even if it was bad it would have interesting ideas.  I was VERY wrong.  It wasn’t anything like that at all, really, except in the traveling through the west theme.

And it was great.  My only beef with the book is that I will have to wait another 2 years (!!!) for the series to be finished.  Damn you, Simon and Schuster.  You always do this to me!

In this west, there are three parts.  There is the United States, there is the territory controlled by the devil, and then there is Spain, in that order from East to West.  The devil is undefined.  Is he evil?  Who knows.  But he does protect the territory, and he does make bargains for people’s souls.  He also runs a saloon, where main character Izzy grows up.

Izzy isn’t sure where she wants to go when she reaches her majority.  So she sells herself to the devil and agrees to become his left hand, touring his portion of the territory and doing… well, she doesn’t really know.  She has a guide to teach her the road, and they know there are monsters let loose to murder the populace.  That’s all she has to go on.

It’s a great book, super-exciting, and basically reminds me of a Deadlands game that has gone to print. Being out on the road seems great, if inconvenient sometimes.  Also bonus points for a book that discusses how women deal with periods (as in monthly bleeding) because I’ve never seen that before in fantasy.

I would like to travel the road with Gabriel and see the strange things in the west, although I’m not sure I’d agree to sell my soul to the devil to do it.

Isobel makes me want to be a villain.

So that’s it for the book reviews this week.  As always, happy reading!

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Book Review: The Princess Bride

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I hate to admit it, but I had never read The Princess Bride. I am a terrible nerd, and should be forced to hand over my membership card. No one who GMs Savage Worlds games should admit to such an atrocity, I’m sure. I have seen the movie. Many times. And I can quote large swaths of it. Isn’t that enough?

Yeah, don’t worry, I know it’s not.

I had several friends in middle school that loved the novel and thought Florin was an actual place. They would argue with me, and claim that they couldn’t wait to get their hands on the unabridged version if they could ever find one. That is the joke, though. There is no unabridged version, and there is no Florin, no Guilder. S. Morgenstern is a made up fellow, much like Daniel Handler is Lemony Snicket. I don’t wonder that our pre-teen selves were bamboozled. Especially in a time before internet was prolific. When things got heated, when they insisted that there were swathes on culture that had been taken out of the book and that obviously made those countries legit, I would stop arguing and start nodding and smiling. Whatever you want, friends, as long as I don’t have to believe it too.

I don’t know why I never picked up the book myself in those years. Maybe it was because I was too obsessed with Tolkien. His fantasies felt like histories. I dove into Middle Earth and didn’t emerge for years.

But I picked it up a few weeks ago, and this is how:

I have been trying to get myself to write more consistently. As part of that, for every 30 days I write (not necessarily in a row), I buy myself a present of a fancy book or two. I have been letting John Greene traumatize me for the past month, and enjoying every minute of it. So I thought I was going into the bookstore for hard back copies of The Fault In Our Stars, Looking For Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, or maybe even Paper Towns (which I haven’t read yet). They were there on the shelf, and they were so pretty. But there were too many of them. I couldn’t have all four, and how would I ever decide?

The Fantasy section is right behind the Young Adult section in my bookstore. I turned, and there it was in all its blue-bound glory tucked among the Tolkien books and the George RR Martin books. The illustrated Princess Bride, hard covered, beautiful, abridged. The pages are glossy, the illustrations are gorgeous. I had never read the book, but I knew I would like it. And that my husband would like it. And that it would be something to treasure for a long time, because they don’t make editions this pretty every day. It came home with me.

It reads like the movie, only much better. The snarky comments of Goldman, the abridger, are hilarious (he’s never read the novel – he’s only had it read to him. He cut out the parts his father used to skip). The story is broader and more real than the movie, which feels like a silly but intelligent fable. The characters are real and flawed, but worth loving and the back story Goldman has sketched out for them makes them all the more lovable: Buttercup’s love of dirt and slight stupidity; Inigo Montoya’s swordsmith friend; the Zoo of Death. The jokes are just as good as the movie, too.

I can’t say I’m sorry I read the book as an adult and not as a teen. I don’t think I would have understood the footnotes, the jokes about Goldman’s inability to publish Buttercup’s Baby due to estate problems with Morgenstern, or the way he talks about the country of Florin. It would have all gone over my head. What I would have been left with is the sweet, impossible fairy tale that appears in the movie. But I would have missed the sense that I was in on this gigantic inside joke. I am glad I bought it, glad I read it, and I think everyone else should too. No, really. Everyone. Especially if you are an adult and like fantasy novels.

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