Category Archives: Business

A Week Later — Was the Free Promotion a Success?

It’s April 14 and outside my windows heavy snow falls at a brisk pace. As the snow accumulates, whitening the world, I am trying to make sense of the results of the free promotion I ran for Perceval’s Secret, March 23 through April 7 (and actually into April 8 for a while). I had not set any specific goals for this promotion because it was an experiment. I did have some questions I wanted to answer:

Is it worth it to have Perceval’s Secret on sale at Kobo International (Kobo.com)?

Kobo continued to perform as it has from the first day in March 2014 that I put Perceval’s Secret on sale. That is, a big fat zero. To my knowledge, Kobo has not provided any kind of supportive promotion, i.e. included the book with other similar books in emailings to potential customers. I do know that Kobo has set up an arrangement with another online store to sell my novel also. To my knowledge, sales at that other online store have been zero. As a result of this continued poor showing, I took my novel off sale at Kobo last Sunday.

Why did I choose to use Kobo initially?  I wanted an online bookstore that would cover foreign markets for the ePub format (the same as Nook). That was Kobo International.

How does B&N.com stand against Amazon?

It surprised me that the free sales at B&N were also zero during the promotion. When I first launched the novel, I did have some sales at B&N; and with a promotion I did for book clubs, people who owned Nooks almost equaled those who owned Kindles. So I’m mystified by this result to the promotion. I’d hoped to move more at B&N and possibly garner some reviews at B&N as a result. I’ll leave the book on sale there because now it’s the only place anyone can purchase the ePub format of the book.

Does Amazon really dominate the online book market as much as I’d heard it did?

According to the results of my free promotion, the answer is yes. KDP Support was not very easy to work with, since they would not allow me to change the price to $0 myself (as the other two online stores did), and they kept claiming that the links I provided showing the book at $0 on sale at B&N and Kobo actually showed it as not being free. It left me thinking that KDP Support (which I’m convinced is based in India since all the names were Indian) had a real passive-aggressive way of dealing with people.

I did not sign up for KDP Select because I chose to sell an ePub edition as well, so Amazon was not the only online store that was selling the book, and in order to be in KDP Select, Amazon needs to be the sole seller. If I’d chosen Amazon as my only online seller and I’d joined KDP Select, there would be more promotional opportunities through Amazon for me. As it is, to my surprise, Amazon has begun sending out promotional emails that include Perceval’s Secret at the top of a long list of books. Thank you for that, Amazon.

The really good news is that over the 2-week period of the promotion, Amazon sold 245 free copies of Perceval’s Secret. That’s 245 more people (I hope) that now own the book and will read it (I hope). I also hope that out of those 245 people, some of them will be moved to write reviews of it for Amazon, or maybe even GoodReads, too. Or maybe even send me a note, either via this blog or via the Perceval Books Facebook page. 

What’s Next?

As a result of the BookBub Follower promotion run by LitRing that I participated in during the first week of my free promotion, I now have an email mailing list of BookBub people who read thrillers. I plan to use this list in some way, perhaps sending out emails to this list for future promotions. Also as a result of the BookBub Follower promotion, I increased the number of my followers at that site by 156. My expectations for that promotion had been very low, so that number was a nice surprise. I also followed back everyone who followed me and had a public profile.

So, I consider this a good beginning to a year of promoting Perceval’s Secret.

Last Day! PERCEVAL’S SECRET is Free!

Today is the final day you will be able to get Perceval’s Secret for FREE!

At Amazon here.

At B&N.com here.

At Kobo.com here.

Despite working with Amazon KDP Support, I was unable to convince them to match the free price at other Amazon sites in Europe, India, Australia, Canada, and Mexico. As I’ve offered earlier, if anyone in these countries would like a free copy for their Kindle, please contact me at percevalbooks dot com and include your country of residence in your request. Anyone who can, please purchase your free copy for Kindle from Amazon US. Copies of Perceval’s Secret are available for other e-readers from either B&N.com or Kobo.com.

Once this promotion is over and I’ve had a chance to take stock, I’ll report on whether or not it was a success.

Thank you to everyone who has already gotten their free copy! I hope you enjoy reading it!

Lengthening Shelf Life Part 2

Last week I wrote about promotional options for older books and factors to think about before launching a promotion, based on an article I’d read in the June 2017 issue of The Writer by Brian Feinblum entitled “Shelf Life: How to Promote an Older Book.” This week, it’s time for me to look at my strategy compared with what Feinblum suggests in his article.

Updating the Book

Feinblum spends a lot of time in his article on this option. Updating means taking the book off sale first, then doing revisions, changing the cover and/or cover copy, changing the price, among other possible changes. If there’s significant revisions to the text, the updated edition could qualify for its own ISBN and its own publication launch. Updating also includes publishing other editions such as an audiobook.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, my goal is to publish a paperback edition of Perceval’s Secret. I’ve been considering what I’d need to do to accomplish this goal once I’ve paid off my debt. First, I’d need to format the book for paperback publication. I’d probably return to the people who formatted my manuscript for the e-book. I’d need to return to my cover designer and request a full cover, i.e. front, spine, and back. I’d need to write the back cover copy, including any positive blurbs from existing reviews. I already have an ISBN for a paperback edition. Finally, I’d need to choose where/how to publish the paperback. Right now, CreateSpace is at the top of my list, but I’d want to research other possibilities.

While updating a book or publishing a different edition would provide the opportunity for another launch, there is a cost associated – I have yet to do a cost estimate for each step – as well as a time cost.

 Write a Spin-off Version

This option requires writing another book. While this is a good idea, it has the same costs in time and money that updating the book has. I’ve played around with writing a novel in which Bernie Brown is the protagonist – maybe a prequel type novel – or a novel that explores the relationship between Evan’s father, Randall, and Evan’s mentor, the composer Joseph Caine. For the moment, however, I need to focus on finishing the remaining novels in the Perceval series first. It’s possible that getting the second and third books out into the world will help sell the first.

 Sell Foreign Rights

Actually selling foreign rights, film rights, audio book rights, or any of the other rights I own for Perceval’s Secret could give the book a boost in attention and sales. Feinblum suggests it could be easier to sell in smaller countries or just other countries. If it becomes a bestseller in another country, that could be an effective selling point for the book in America. There is a logistical issue with this option – I don’t have the connections necessary to sell foreign or any other rights. I suppose if I had a literary agent, he or she could assist with this, but I don’t have one at the moment.

 Tie the Book to Current Events

I have been utilizing this option as much as possible, especially at the Perceval Novels Facebook page where I post news stories and then comment on how Perceval’s Secret is related. I’ve also written posts at this blog tying the novel to current events. It’s been kind of spooky at times that political events or trends that I had imagined for my America 2048 have been happening.

Why would a stranger care about this book?

This ultimately is the question every writer needs to be able to answer for marketing and promotion. What is the primary benefit of this “product” for the consumer? For Perceval’s Secret, the reasons for a stranger to care about this book would include an imaginative view of the near future, an interesting and different setting in the world of classical music, suspense, twisty surprises, and a story that will stick to your bones.

 Here are My Resources that offer opportunities for free promotion:

  • Facebook Page
  • Anatomy of Perceval Blog
  • LinkedIn
  • GoodReads: encourage followers
  • Amazon Author Page
  • BookBub Author Page and promotions related to it
  • Publishers Marketplace
  • Book Reviews
  • Gina Hunter’s Blog: Eyes on Life

 My next task is to take my resources and develop a promotions plan using them. Then to implement the plan over the next 2-3 months.  I’ve already signed up for a promotion at BookBub to increase my followers there to get some attention.

It’s been a very helpful exercise to go through Brian Feinblum’s article and ask myself how his ideas and suggestions relate to my promotion efforts for Perceval’s Secret. I hope my exercise has given you thoughts and ideas for your own promotion efforts!

 

 

Lengthening Shelf Life Part 1

Brian Feinblum, a book promoter and marketer, asked in the June 2017 issue of The Writer, “What can – or should – you do to market books that are aging in the eyes of bookstores, the media, and readers?”

Lately, I’ve been fretting about my struggle to promote and market Perceval’s Secret which I published as an e-book in March 2014. The novel’s fourth anniversary as a published book fast approaches.  I’d love to give it a boost to get it into the reading public’s consciousness to encourage them to buy and read it.

Feinblum, in his The Writer article “Shelf Life: How to promote an older book,” writes about how a book’s “window of newness” has been shrinking over the years. If it doesn’t make a big splash in the first three months it’s on the market, selling it after that could be a struggle. But fiction usually does not lose its relevance, accuracy or current status for a long time, while nonfiction could become dated faster depending on the subject matter. Fiction should be easier to promote after the magic three-month period, right?

Promotional Options for “Older” Books

It’s important to know what the possibilities for promotion for an older book are just like for a new book launch. Feinblum describes them as follows:

  • Let the book die and hope for a miracle that someone finds it, reads it, and sparks a word-of-mouth campaign that will boost sales. I call this the “wishful thinking” option. However, if a writer has constraints on time, it could be just as viable as fitting in promotional activities in a busy life.
  • Create and execute a social media strategy. This option demands the writer be on more than one social media platform, and that there is daily participation on those platforms to talk about the book. I’m assuming that a writer’s blog falls into this slot, along with online book bloggers who review books.
  • Target promotional efforts using traditional media, like print, radio, TV. Interviews on radio programs that cover books, book review sections of major newspapers and magazines, or doing interviews on morning news programs be they local or national are some of the possibilities here. Some of these activities could be done in conjunction with a book tour or locally. Having a publicist could be extremely helpful for this category; otherwise, the writer will be doing all the press releases, making the calls and connections, and setting up the engagements.
  • Travel for the book, i.e. do a speaking tour, paid or unpaid. Book tours require careful planning, utilizing connections in book stores and libraries, and getting the word out about a writer’s visit via press release. It’s helpful if the writer can also help with promoting locally his or her appearance in the bookstore’s location by doing interviews or helping with advertising the event.
  • Advertise the book. Print advertising, for example, in publications that the novel’s target audience reads. I continue to consider running ads in Playbill for Perceval’s Secret. This option has a huge drawback: it can be quite expensive not only for buying the media space, but also for producing the ads. Writers can also utilize social media for advertising, working with the platform to create the ads. When I launched Perceval’s Secret, I did a postcard mailing to the musicians of eleven major American orchestras, and would consider another one.
  • Cross-promote with other authors. This is especially helpful if you know a writer who is fairly well known and has a readership, and who writes in the same genre and related genre as you. The better known writer can spark initial interest and give the lesser known writer a bit of a boost. I’ve heard of this most commonly done for book tours when two or more authors hit the road to do readings and book signings together.
  • Have a giveaway. Everyone loves free stuff. Do a free giveaway for a couple weeks and promote that giveaway at GoodReads, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, as well as on your blog. Keep it a specific time period to generate urgency. If you have a hard copy version of your book, you can do a giveaway on GoodReads (this site is working on setting up procedures for e-book giveaways but don’t yet offer that option). If you have the money, BookBub also offers effective promotion possibilities.

Before deciding which promotional options will work for your book, it’s important to think about the factors listed below, and this is where I am at the moment with Perceval’s Secret. I’ve looked at all my options and have done some cost estimates – for example, to advertise on Facebook or promote the series’ Facebook page, to do a BookBub promotion – then made a list of where I can heighten my presence to talk about the novel, for example, creating a series of short videos to post at my Amazon author page, on BookBub, at GoodReads, and at my page on Publishers Marketplace. These videos, as I envision them, would be a mix of reading a short excerpt from Perceval’s Secret and just talking about my experience writing the book or why I think someone should read it.

The Factors to Think About

  • What are your needs and desires for promoting the book?
  • How much time and what resources (money) do you have available?
  • How strong is your belief that your book is worth more promotion?
  • Would your time be better served by letting promotion go of this book and focus on writing new books?
  • Have you figured out why your book didn’t sell as well as hoped during launch or why it failed to generate more reviews?

Answers to these questions could steer you in one of two directions. The first is simply to proceed with the new promotional efforts.  The second could be to revise and repackage the book and do a re-launch. This second direction offers the opportunity to make improvements if you decide they are needed or to add promotional items like testimonials from readers, quotes from reviews, or getting blurbs or a writer to actually write an introduction. I know that I want to eventually issue a paperback of Perceval’s Secret once I’ve paid off completely the debt I incurred for the e-book. This might serve as my repackage of the novel with a specific paperback launch. But for now, I’m concerned about promoting the e-book edition.

Next week in Part 2, how my strategy does or doesn’t fit with what Feinblum wrote in his article in the June 2017 The Writer.

Have you ever been faced with promoting an older book? What did you do?  

Ready? Set? Go!

End of Year Writing Update

MC Escher: Paradox of being a writer

My writing year 2017 began with a successful essay for ClassicalMPR.org of an interview of one of the young composers participating in the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer Institute and Future Classics concert. It was a great way to start the year.  I wish that momentum had continued.  Last August, I wrote a short update about my writing this year, but it’s been a year since my last full update. Rather than skip writing because of the holiday this week, I thought I’d do my annual end-of-the-year update/review today and take off next weekend for New Year’s. My next post will be in 2018!

Non-writing Employment: Working for others affected my writing this year far more than I’d anticipated or wanted. The first three months of the year, I continued to work part-time at the customer service job and receptionist position. At the same time, I continued to search for a fulltime job as my bank account dictated. In March, I accepted a fulltime position with a financial services company as their front desk receptionist. After beginning that job in April, it took me about three months to get used to the new work schedule. I wasn’t able to do any writing, but at least I did a lot of reading on my daily commutes. That position lasted until about two weeks ago, and now I’m back to searching for another fulltime job. My financial situation has now become especially precarious.  Although I’ve applied for unemployment insurance benefits, what I’ll receive barely covers rent. I’ll be working even harder, when not working on the job search, at selling my possessions as well as promoting my writing.

Perceval Novels:
If you have not yet bought your copy of Perceval’s Secret (only $2.99!), please do, and give it a read.  It’s available at Amazon and B&N.com. The reviews continue to be good to excellent!  I’d love to hear from readers through reviews at Amazon and B&N, or at Goodreads. And I could sure use the money!

I’m planning a couple promotions in the first quarter of 2018.  The first will probably be at GoodReads — a giveaway, if that’s possible for e-books. The second will be through BookBub. Please feel free to take advantage of these promotions, or encourage friends and family to take advantage of them.

As for the other novels in the series, all my files for Perceval’s Shadow, the second novel in the series, remain piled on my desk awaiting my attention. To be honest, I have not had much time to think about the Perceval series in 2017 except for handing out postcards for Perceval’s Secret to anyone interested and talking about that novel a lot.

Marketing: Marketing and promo for Perceval’s Secret this past year was catch as catch can.  It will receive more time from me in the weeks to come. I did talk more about the novel and hand out the postcards for it more often.  As I mentioned above, I plan to run a couple promotions in the first quarter of 2018. Still need to utilize the marketing tools at GoodReads, LinkedIn and Publishers Marketplace.  I continue to promote the novel on Twitter and Facebook.  I’ve been writing more posts at the Perceval Novels Facebook page, too.  Please go and like it, and visit often for updates on the novels.

A-hand-writing-with-a-pen-006

New Novel Project: This project landed on the back burner this past year. I still plan to transform my original screenplay, Over the Rainbow, into a novel. While cleaning out some computer files yesterday, I opened the last draft of the script and read some random scenes, a bit surprised by how much I’d forgotten. I love the story, the main character, and the potential of it, so I hope to be able to work on it soon.

GoFundMe Project: What a crazy failure this was! I launched the GoFundMe fundraising page last March. I’d hoped to raise the money to pay off all my debt, especially the credit card debt.  I raised about $600.  I must give heartfelt thanks to all those who did contribute to the project, and I will be posting their names on my Appreciation Page on this blog soon.  During one promotion for the project, one person won the prize of having a character named after him in one of the last two Perceval series novels.  That will be fun for me too! I continue to very slowly pay off the credit card debt I’d been carrying from production, publication, and marketing expenses that I incurred to publish Perceval’s Secret as an e-book.  I won’t be able to even think about doing a paperback until the debt is paid off.

Short Stories: In July, I completed the first draft of my science fiction short story, Light the Way.  Then another interesting character, Aanora, entered my life, and I began writing her story.  It was slow going since I’ve only been able to write on weekends, but perhaps I can finish the first draft of this story in the next month or so. For 2018, I plan to continue to work more on short stories to get more of my writing out there for people to read.

Blogs: I continue to write posts at the Eyes on Life blog (as Gina Hunter) and here at Anatomy of Perceval.  My focus at the Gina Hunter blog has become a bit fluid: I continue to write “The Successful Patient” posts, but in addition I’m writing about the experience of being one of the Working Poor, so it’ll be about economics, money, working, etc. I also joined a blogfest called We are the World dedicated to spreading light in the online darkness, i.e. drawing attention to positive news about the love and compassion that human beings have for each other. Those posts appear on the last Friday (or Saturday) each month. I may also look into guest blogging, especially if they are paid gigs.

Essays/Paid Gigs: After the published interview/essay in January at ClassicalMPR.org, writing essays landed on the back burner. I plan to return to writing essays for ClassicalMPR.org (if they’ll have me) as well as research and investigate more markets for my essays.

Yager Editing Services: I closed this online business in May and took down the website.

Journal Writing: After an 18-month hiatus, I recently returned to my journal writing, although I’m taking a different approach to it than I have before.

The Successful Patient:
Nothing has changed on this project — still on the back burner.

Reading: I exceeded my 2017 Reading Challenge at GoodReads thanks to so much reading time on my daily commutes. Reading is an essential part of being a writer, and it’s been fun to read both wonderful and awful books this past year.  You can check out my reviews of them on GoodReads, and give me a holler while you’re there!

Right now, my life is one big Uncertainty.  Please keep your fingers crossed that I come through this time OK, and I don’t end up out on the street. While homelessness is an experience, it’s not one I want to have.  So, let’s hope I find that fulltime job that’s just waiting for me so I can return to my creative life.

Best wishes for a happy and healthful 2018!

Image from Pixelstalk.net