Tag 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.

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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!

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

 

How do you choose books to buy?

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”  — Winston Churchill

Sam Shepard

In another word, perseverance.  Success and what it means has been in the back of my mind this week.  Sam Shepard died as the week began, and reading about his life as a playwright, writer, and actor proved provocative to my mind. Shepard told an interviewer once that he felt most comfortable in the theater, writing for the theater. That made me ask myself where do I feel most comfortable in my creative life? How does that feeling relate to production and success? I know I am happiest when I am writing fiction.

This morning, I ran across a short essay by Hope Clark, a mystery writer who has a well-known newsletter called Funds for Writers. In this essay, Clark wrote about what the most important thing is about being a writer.  Is it getting credit for writing and publishing? Or is it giving the world a great story experience?

My next thought was that maybe success could be measured in just how great the story experience was that you’ve created. But how does anyone know that? And could one person’s great story experience be another’s failed story experience? Today, for example, I finished reading a novel that has won rave reviews and that I’d heard friends and acquaintances rave about for a long time.  I didn’t think it was that great at all.

I don’t rely solely on what my friends and acquaintances recommend when I’m looking for a great story. I read reviews, I subscribe to the NY Times Book Review newsletter, as well as reading the review sections of other papers and magazines. I have to admit that I don’t pay much attention to marketing blurbs or any kind of promotional pitches. What I pay attention to are the descriptions of the novel’s story, and then a little to genre. I love books, though, that blend genres or bend them. So I guess it’s important to know your own taste and interests before going off to Amazon or a bricks and mortar store to buy books. I do miss bricks and mortar bookstores where I could wander around and actually see, touch, and smell the books!

In her essay, Clark describes the kind of promotional copy that will turn her off a book, and the kind of promotional copy that will spark her interest. Her ultimate point in the essay, though, is that authors need to remember their responsibility to readers, i.e. to provide them with a great story they’ll be glad they paid good money for and spent their time reading. That whatever they say in their pitches and promotions, they focus on the story.

So, Mr. Churchill, I think I’d define success for a writer in this way: Committed to writing the best you can, knowing what makes your stories great,  giving your readers one great story after another, and attaining the recognition of being a writer who produces great stories, i.e. the kind of stories that people want to buy and read.

What draws you to a book? How do you choose the books you buy? What was the last great story you read? Please respond in the comments section!

The Cost of Being Independent

The May 2017 issue of The Writer is chock full of helpful and interesting articles! Since I’m working to pay off debt incurred from e-publishing Perceval’s Secret, I was particularly interested in the article, “Going Rogue: Is Self-publishing right for you?” In this article, Kerrie Flanagan compares the traditional publishing model and the self-publishing/independent model, covering all aspects of production, publication, marketing/promotion, and distribution. I recommend this article highly, highly, highly — especially for anyone who believes it doesn’t cost much at all to self-publish.

It depends, of course, on what you want. If you just want to publish an e-book, your costs may not be that high compared to a paperback or hardcover.  I took the advice and suggestions of others, some were writers I knew who’d been successful with self-publishing, and made certain that I found a good-to-excellent editor and a collaborative cover designer for my e-book. Editors can be expensive, anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on what you want and who it is. Shop around, but also shop local if you can. I’m fortunate to live in a literary urban area full of colleges and writing resources. The cover design for me was actually the least expensive cost. I went with a designer who’d done a friend’s book covers. There are writers who are talented in design also, and they can design their own covers, saving money there.

My next expense was to turn my Word document into ePub and Mobi files for Kindle and other e-readers.  For me, this was a painful learning experience. Fortunately, I found an excellent and very patient formatting company, BookNook.biz. Because I had not cleared my Word document of all icky formatting glitches, and Word is notorious for them, there were all sorts of issues with the electronic formatting that cost me more to fix than it would have if I’d cleared the Word document at the beginning. I didn’t know. I paid for my ignorance.  It won’t happen again.  Some writers know a lot about formatting or aren’t scared off by the conversion process. They will save some bucks by doing the conversion themselves.

Flanagan doesn’t go into the cost of ISBN numbers, registering your novel with the US Copyright Office, and marketing/promotion costs.  The last can cost you significantly more than producing the book, depending on what you want, of course.  I worked in advertising at one point in my life and know a bit about marketing.  The most important thing about marketing that you need to know is that unless you are famous or have an irresistible platform, it’s going to be very difficult making yourself heard in the cacophony of promotion at any given moment. In the US, at least 50,000 books are published every year. You’ll be competing with all of them for readers’ attention and hard-earned money. Adjust your expectations for sales accordingly.

With traditional publishing, the writer has no up front costs as with self or independent publishing. The writer also doesn’t have the control that she has as an independent publisher. Traditional publishers take over all the production, with some limited input from the writer about covers, titles, and then proofing galleys. They will also provide very limited marketing and promotion, but are honest with writers that they depend on them for the bulk of this work. It can take up to 2 years for a traditional publisher to publish your book.  If you do it yourself, it can be done in 3-6 months. Perceval’s Secret took 8 months because I slowed the editing and revision process at the beginning.

Photo: aliyasking.com

There is one important thing that traditional publishers (and literary agents) do that writers cannot really do on their own. That is: tell a writer if a book is in publishable shape or not. Even before I contracted to work with my last editor, I’d already been through several edits including a really close line edit. I knew that there would be no major changes or issues for that last edit. There was polishing, however, and that is an important process also. In the last few years, I’ve been asked to read self-published books on occasion. I love helping out a fellow writer, especially if a book is truly worth the attention my review might be able to get for it.  But in all cases, the books were in such terrible shape with grammar, language, sentence and paragraph construction, narrative structure, and in one case, checking facts,  I was shocked. How could a writer allow their work to be published like that? So I’d caution anyone thinking of going the self-publishing route to be absolutely certain that their writing is the best it can be, and do not depend on self-publishing services to provide competent editing for you.  Find your own professional editor.

As I mentioned at the top, I’m still paying off the debt I incurred for publishing Perceval’s Secret in digital form.  I’m coming up on the end of the promotional period on July 1 for the 0% interest rate from the credit card I transferred the debt to (it was originally on another credit card with high interest). I set up a GoFundMe project to raise the funds to pay off this debt, so if you’d like to help out, every $10 or $20 will be a big help. It’d be great if I could raise another $600 in the next couple weeks.  The GoFundMe page is here.  Thank you!  Or please buy Perceval’s Secret at Amazon or B&N, and leave a review there after you’ve read it.

Taking Perceval to the Next Step GoFundMe Page