Posts Tagged With: Writer

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

PUBLICATION DAY!!

Blue Gentian is officially out for publication, and I’m running it free for the next 5 days to thank you all for following me through this journey.  If you could please consider telling someone what you thought of it (especially consider reviewing it!) I would be the most grateful girl on the web.  Thanks in advance.

So what are you waiting for?  Go get your free copy!

Blue Gentian Cover - Final -

 

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

A Change, and a Vignette

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I’m all off this week because of the holiday.  Mondays off always throw me for a loop – not that I’m complaining.  But the Thursday blog entry is now a Friday blog entry since everything is a day removed.

Speaking of which… I’ve had some time to review this year in blogging and have decided to make a change and post book reviews here MUCH less in the new year.  Caseykins.com was always meant to be an author site, and I feel like it’s getting away from its purpose if all I do is post about books that often aren’t even in the genre I’m writing in.  So… I started another blog for the reviews.  I’ll likely still post the quarterly reading list here, and blog anything I totally fall head over heels for.  But in general I’m trying to keep all things novel to Book Dragon.  And that way if you like the book reviews, you can get that almost exclusively.  And if you like these little writing process and slice of life things, you can get that almost exclusively too.  This year was the first year I didn’t see a dramatic growth in people visiting the site, and I feel like the confused image might be some of the problem…

One of my tasks for the New Year was to incorporate more practice into my writing.  I’ll most likely be trying to substitute the book posts with these little vignettes.  I wrote this after visiting the Santa Monica Pier with Brian on the 1st.  It was crazy-busy down there, but still a good trip:

 

Brian and I sat on a concrete bench on the busy, bright pier for quite a while, just watching the waves crash on the thick barnacled supports beneath us.

A family came soon after we sat and took the other end of the bench.  They weren’t speaking English. I don’t know if it was French or what (I don’t think it was French really), but they were all older people, the men with close-cropped hair and the women wearing bright floral scarves tied under their throats. One of the men was pushing an empty stroller, and in the arms of the other man was a small girl with the curliest and reddest of hair. She was wearing a pink fuzzy coat with yellow butterflies clipped all over it. Their crepe wings fluttered in the ocean breeze. The family sat down next to us, and she threw herself backward in the arms of her father? Grandfather? And squealed every time the orange roller coaster swooped past with a rattle.

Eventually she started to fuss a bit, and the man started to sing to her. I didn’t recognize all of it, but one of the verses seemed to be a question about kilometers. And then he sang her Frere Jaques. That was her favorite, because she sang it back, her little voice not making all the syllables. She squirmed to get down, and continued singing while yanking herself backward on the steel pier railings, her little feet, in white tights, still on the wood deck.

It was sweet, and it made me smile.

The family took a selfie with the waves in the background, the shoreline stretching like a crescent behind them into oblivion.  And then they bundled their things and strolled away again towards the food booths.  The little girl was probably too young to remember her trip to California. Not through anything other than pictures of herself.  But I’ll remember her now.

 

Photo credit to Brian.  Thanks, dear!

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The Writing, and Quantity

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I read somewhere about in a study they did with musicians in college.  They found that the amount the musician practiced determined how successful they were later in life.  1-2 hours a day, and the person usually became a music teacher or did small ensemble work.  The folks that got the prestigious Philharmonic gig were practicing 3+ hours a day in addition to all the ensemble work they were doing for class.  I’m trying to apply that to my writing, although I’m not terribly sure how well I’m succeeding.  I know I’m hitting 1-2, just not sure if I’m getting all the way to that 3 mark.

I say this, because I realized this week that it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about how the writing is going.  It’s going as well as it ever goes.  Some days it feels like I’m charging along.  Other days it feels like I’m flogging myself because I need to write and I just don’t want to.  I am in the weeds of the messy last ½ of Blue Gentian, and not enjoying it.  But I am making progress.  I’m trying to tell myself that I hate it because I’ve been over it too many times, and that it’s not a reflection of the actual writing.  I’m trying to tell myself that it’s definitely not a practice novel and it’s worth it to keep going.  Brian has been bucking me up about it as needed.

I’m hopeful that when I finish this draft, I will be awfully close to being able to shop it. Brian is my alpha reader, and he will have been through it all at that point and all revisions will be made.  I’m working on my synopsis and on my pitch letter.

When Blue Gentian gets too depressing, I’ve started to put together the 2nd draft of my next book – about a girl who has to travel to the Egyptian temple in the Grand Canyon to release a goddess from bondage so that the world doesn’t implode into a thing full of nothing but h bombs, earthquakes, and polio.  It’s set in the 1950s.  That’s going well, but slowly.  I’m in love with the world, so it’s nice to be in the middle of it for a while. Even if I’m not quite sure what the next part of the story should be.

I have a couple of short stories that are also going slowly, and I am shopping around another short.  Mostly it’s a waiting game at this point.  I hope to hear this weekend from the place I have it now, and then be ready to send it to the next place if the news is bad.  Spoiler: the news is almost always bad, although I’m a little more hopeful that this mag will say yes than I am for most others.

That’s how it’s going.  I’m plugging along.  And I’m hoping that quantity will eventually turn into quality.  I think the odds are in my favor.  If I can just get to hour 3…

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Oh, Amazon…

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So it turns out that not only is Amazon blocking Hachette (http://online.wsj.com/articles/amazon-hachette-e-book-pricing-battle-continues-1407708761), but they’re trying the same shit with Warner Brothers (http://mashable.com/2014/06/10/hachette-warner-bros-amazon-lego/) and Disney (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/09/amazon-takes-the-muppets-off-the-shelf/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&smid=tw-nytimesbits&_r=2&). Umm, I don’t know how you expect this to end guys, but I predict that it won’t go well. In addition, Amazon has sent out a letter to all their self-published KDP writers asking them to write to the CEO of Hachette and complain (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/09/orwell-is-amazons-latest-target-in-battle-against-hachette/). Another really bad idea, I would imagine; even if they had gotten their literary references correct. Amazon is now putting people like me (who just want to read a damn book, or sell a damn book) in the middle of this thing. It’s like running to mommy when the big kid tries to take your lunch money, except that Amazon is supposed to be the mommy in this situation. 

I am shaking my head over here. Also, I’m angry.

Frankly, I don’t care how I get my stuff as long as I get it. I liked the fact that Amazon is easy to use and all in one place; I can click a single button and the thing I’ve ordered arrives. However, all my stuff is no longer in the same place or will arrive reliably. Shannon Hale is with Hachette. Amanda Palmer is with Hachette. JK Rowling and Stephen Colbert are with Hachette. I LOVE the Muppets.  I really don’t like getting dicked around because two giant corporations can’t get it together and make an agreement. I don’t think that Hachette is blameless, but I do think they’ve played the PR game better. And really, for me, the whole thing is about access. I don’t care how Amazon and Hachette resolve this thing, I just want to be able to read what I want to read. I also don’t mind paying a little more for that privilege.

So basically, this post is to say that I’m done. Amazon obviously can’t give me the customer experience I need. I love that Kindle app on my phone, but did you know that Kobo also has a reading app? I downloaded it last night and I already love it. Their prices are not that different from Amazon, and I was able to preorder both Shannon Hale’s “A Wonderlandiful World” and Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking” with the click of a single button. It loads faster than the Kindle app, too, and they give me fancy badges for reading stuff! There is also a little green bookmark that goes into your page when you sign out. Next, I’m going to try Powell’s (http://www.powells.com/) or Vroman’s (http://www.vromansbookstore.com/) for all my physical book ordering needs. There is also the fabulous Barnes and Noble, for the large and established factor.  I’m not going without stuff to prove a point I don’t care about, Amazon.  Maybe if you had gotten that George Orwell quote right… (Okay, not even then).

In the mean time, I wish both Amazon and Hachette luck in figuring this whole thing out. Now excuse me while I go enrich Wil Wheaton’s stock in popcorn by buying a huge bowl for myself. I’ve figured out a way to get my books like I want them and I no longer have a stake in the game. Now the travesty can unfold for my amusement.

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The Novel, and BEA

IMG_20140303_131755I’m more connected to the publishing industry than I ever have been before.  Not that I’m very connected, but I have recently started following some industry blogs.  I feel like I have an inkling of what’s happening, although I don’t participate and I know I’m probably woefully uninformed compared to some.  Still, being more connected has some interesting consequences.

Before I delve into the consequences, you should probably know that the novel isn’t going well right now.  It seems to go in fits and starts.  This is a full-on fit where I can barely get myself motivated to write the three new chapters that draft three really needs.  Almost nothing is left of the Nanowrimo manuscript, and yet it’s still far from good with no end in sight.  I think that part of the problem is this: if it’s only for me, I don’t have to worry about whether it’s good or not.  As soon as I show it to someone, it matters.  Once this draft is finished, I will show it to people.  It will break my heart if I’ve been working for years on something that can only be tossed out.

I’m too close to it to know how it really is.  All I can see is the masses of work it still needs, not whether the words that exist now are any good.  That’s high incentive not to finish editing it.  If I never get to draft five, then I can still harbor dreams of six figure advances and glossy covers.  I can interview myself as I drive home, about the genius symbolism I wove through the novel and what my next project will be.  I can craft my answer to “Where do you get your ideas?” I can plan what I will wear to book panels and signings.

You don’t have to tell me this is an insane pipe dream.  I already know it.  Just as I know exactly which house I’m going to buy in Maine when I win the lottery (says the girl who never buys a ticket).

And that’s where the consequences lie.  Mostly, I’m sad because I wish I could join in.  All the tweets from BEA are making me super jealous.  Especially Shannon Hale’s hilarious reports of things Daniel Handler said.  I would love to hang out with the two of them as peers and not just as a fan (maybe with Libba Bray thrown in for extra sass).  The photos that Little Brown and Penguin are posting of the convention floor also make me cringe.  Is everyone in the world managing to write a novel except me?

I’m beginning to see why writers recommend not even starting if you can help it at all…

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