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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

First, results on the project to disable page flip are confusing. It seemed to be helping at first, but lately . . .

Page reads flatline

I have never had three straight days of zero page reads before. I’ll give it a bit more time, but I may have to rethink some strategies. If the only way I can have my books available through Kindle Unlimited is to let people read them without any reimbursement to me (currently Amazon pays between $0.0045 and $0.005 per “page”) then I may have to opt out and take my books back to wide distribution. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it may be necessary.

Even if that’s what happens, I won’t count the experiment a failure. Firstly, if that’s the way things are, then I need to know that to make good decisions. Secondly, I think going through all my published books occasionally is a good thing. I may have to do it annually or at least biannually, if only to keep the links to my other books up to date. (I know there are simpler ways to do this that I may have to investigate further, too.)

At any rate, if I hadn’t been doing that, I probably would never have taken a second look at the covers for the Chimeria Series or for some of my shorter works. (“Wyreth’s Flame” is probably due for a new cover, too. And I may try to do a little something more with THE MUSIC BOX, to give it more of a fantasy feel.)

As far as covers go, after some struggles, I think I’ve got the one for BLOOD IS THICKER:

BitPurple

The cover for BLOOD WILL TELL still needs a little work, though.

Become3

Looking at the covers in a smaller size (like the thumbnails on Amazon), it’s clear that there are dragons on the new cover for BLOOD IS THICKER. But much less clear on the new cover for BLOOD WILL TELL, because the gold dragon doesn’t show up as well against the moon. I need to work on that.

And, of course, I also need to work on both the revisions and the cover for BECOME:BROTHERS. I’ve stopped temporarily at a place where my critique partner asked me to go deeper into the main character’s feelings about something. She’s right. After all, the character is modeled after Hercules to considerable extent. In order to work, in order for readers to care about him, I need to show his vulnerabilities as well as his strengths. I just need to think a bit on the best way to show that. It’d be easy to just go deeper into his head–and I will do that, too–but I think I also need a scene to actually show it first. And that’s what I have to think about a little bit.

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Wow, I got busy today and almost forgot to blog.

In my defense, I was (mostly) busy. Seems I opened a can of worms when I started updating all of my already-published books. Not that it didn’t need to be done. But, while I’m making the insides prettier and more, well, up-to-date, it seems silly to leave subpar covers on some of the older books and stories.

What happened was that I worked my way down to the Chimeria series. And, yeah, something needs to be done there. Starting with the first book in the series, BLOOD WILL TELL.

Blood Will Tell Cover

Not my worst cover ever. But not exactly stellar, either. In my defense, this was one of my earliest covers.

This is the unfinished version of the new one.

Become3

Unfinished because I’m not sure that I’ve got the right font, yet. Also, I may still move the dragon around a little. I like him better against the blue background than against the moon.

Then, I need to move on to the sequel, BLOOD IS THICKER.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

I have no defense to offer for that one. I’m amazed anyone ever bought that one.

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My page reads (on books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited) were definitely down for the month of February. Not just in absolute terms, but also in relation to sales. I can’t tell, at this point, whether that was due to the one-day free promotions that I ran on several of my books. Or to a reported glitch Amazon introduced with its page flip feature. Or both.

Page reads have rebounded somewhat in March, but not to where I think they should be.

Therefore:

  1. No new promotions for this month, at least.
  2. And I will be doing revisions on several of my books–some of which I’d intended to do anyway–and attempting one possible fix to the problem. Including figuring out some new software.

Sometimes, being an indie author is all about experimenting to see what works–and, occasionally, what doesn’t.

First up for revisions, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

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I didn’t have the map done when I published the first book in the series. I’ve been meaning to go back and put it in, anyway.

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Okay, so in my last post, I promised to continue this subject with my future plans now that I’ve tested this one-day-free promotion strategy. Here goes.

First, since the last time I checked on Friday (you can seriously drive yourself crazy checking these things too often), all but one of the books I’ve tried this on are still at least a little higher in the Amazon rankings than they were before I started. Even the one that needed a complete revision of its metadata and blurb, DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.

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But, my page reads still have not recovered. However, I’m still not convinced that the drop in page reads had anything to do with the promotions.

So, future plans for this promotion:

  1. Because of my catalog, discussed at length here, I’ve decided that a weekly promotion is probably not the best idea. I simply don’t have enough stand-alone or first-in-series full-length books to make that worthwhile at this point. So, I’m probably going to try this monthly rather than weekly. And yes, I skipped the first of this month. I’ve already promoted all but one of those books. They need to rest a bit before I give them a second (or, in the case of DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, third) run.
  2. I’ll probably only promote one book at a time, not two, for the same reason as above.
  3. I also need to experiment a little on the best day of the week to run the promotion. I’ve only done Saturdays so far and it’s possible that not as many people are actually looking for new books to read on that day, especially as we move into spring and summer. Other things to do and all that. I may use that one book that I hadn’t promoted in this way yet–because it was ineligible for the promotion until the end of last month–for one of these experiments in the next week or two. That’s THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, first of the DUAL MAGIC series.

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However, I will also be watching those page reads. And if they stay where they have been the last couple of weeks, I might just decide to pull at least some of these books out of Kindle Select and go back to wide distribution. If I do that, then they’ll no longer be eligible for this kind of free promotion.

 

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So, last time, after blogging about changing one of the categories and many of the keywords for DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, I promised to discuss changes to the blurb.

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Here’s the original blurb:

Keep your head down. Don’t draw attention. Above all, don’t make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa lives by. It’s just part of being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king and living too close to his more-than-slightly paranoid successor.

Ailsa isn’t the only one affected by the new king’s insecurities. The mages backed her father. Now the new king’s repressive policies drive the mages out of the kingdom–and with them the magic that her desert country desperately needs to survive. Ailsa sets out to study magic so she can help keep Far Terra green.

Her plans are nearly upset when her oldest friend, Crown Prince Savyon, proposes. Marrying him would mean giving up her magic. Her family history proves that the barons will never accept a mage as queen. A year of training won’t make her a mage—unless she has insanely powerful magic. And there’s been no sign of that. But at least she’ll know what she’d be giving up before she makes a decision.

A magic-tinted kiss from Jathan, her cheerfully annoying study partner, makes her question what she really feels for Savyon. She and Jathan could do great things together–except that he never wants to go near the desert.

Are magic and love forever mutually exclusive for Ailsa?

See how that basically reinforces the romance, rather than the fantasy elements? It doesn’t sound like much else is going on, does it?

Here’s the new one:

Keep your head down. Don’t draw attention. Above all, don’t make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa lives by. It’s just part of being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king and living too close to his more-than-slightly paranoid successor.

The new king’s insecurities and repressive policies drive most of the mages out of the kingdom–and with them the magic that her desert country urgently needs to survive.

Desperate, Ailsa sets out to study magic so she can help keep Far Terra green. But it’s not as easy as just learning to use her own magic. She’s going to need allies. She’s going to need the very kind of political power that is forbidden to mages.

She must decide if she can trust her heart—and Far Terra’s future—to the childhood friend who is also the new king’s heir. Or she could choose to team up with the fascinating and cheerfully annoying fellow student of magic who, it turns out, has even higher political connections to the emperor himself.

It may take all three of them to bring Far Terra back from the brink.

I tightened up the second paragraph and basically refocused everything from there on to be more about the problem of saving Far Terra, rather than the romance, which really is more the subplot. Though I left in a hint that it’s there. I still may make a change to that last line, though.

After making these changes, I ran another one-day free promotion for this book. Ill-timed. It had only been two weeks since the first one. The first time, I gave away 135 copies. Last week, only 12. Nevertheless, this time it’s placement in Amazon’s ranking did improve and so far, while, like all of them, it’s sliding backward slowly, it is still better placed than it was.

So, I guess that’s an object lesson about the importance of the blurb. We all hate writing them, but we do need to get it right.

Next time, after I’ve assessed all I’ve learned through this experiment, I’ll lay out my personal plan going forward.

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Tomorrow’s going to be busy, so I’ll go ahead and blog a little early.

My last post was mostly about a new promotional technique I’m trying out. At the end, I mentioned one particular book that wasn’t benefiting from it at all–DAUGHTER OF THE DIGRACED KING.

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That prompted me to take a closer look at that book in particular, paying special attention to how I’d set it up on Amazon–the categories, keywords, and the blurb.

Categories:

DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING was initially in the Fantasy->General and Romance->Fantasy categories. While there is a strong romantic element (in fact, I usually describe it as a fantasy romance), that really is more of a subplot, so the book doesn’t belong in the (overcrowded) Romance category at all. I’ve moved it into Young Adult Fantasy instead. Young Adult isn’t actually a category on Amazon, but a combination of category (Juvenile Fiction->Fantasy), age range (minimum 13 years) and key words (Young Adult) will get it there. (Actually, I’m not certain the key word is necessary any more, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.)

Keywords:

The original key words were: Coming of Age, Magic, Love, Princess, Prince, Forest, and Magic University

Those last three were horrible choices.

After some consideration and consultation with others (Thank you Victorine Lieske), the new key words are: Coming of Age, Magic, Love, Princess, Fantasy, Young Adult, and Rebellion.

Coming of Age is a subgenre of fantasy only available by using that keyword. It denotes a (usually) young character moving out into a wider world and especially learning to accept and channel whatever it is that makes them special. In fantasy, of course, this is often magic.

Magic, though central to the plot, unfortunately gets it thrown into Sword and Sorcery, which, while not totally off base, is not entirely accurate, either. For one thing, none of my major characters ever touch a sword, though a couple of side characters do.

Love should get it into Romantic Fantasy, but that hasn’t shown up as one of its categories, yet.

Princess, well, I’m advised that some readers do search for princess stories and Ailsa is a princess, so I left it.

Fantasy is probably a waste, here, actually. It has some usefulness in the Young Adult category, but likely not for this genre. Perhaps I’ll think of something better later on.

Young Adult may be useful in getting it squarely into Young Adult, rather than Childrens. Though the age range may have done that just as well.

Rebellion, while accurate for this story, may or may not do it any good.

Next time, I’ll blog about changes to the blurb.

After making these changes, I went ahead and tried a repeat of the free promotion to test them out. That was probably a mistake. It hadn’t been long enough (two weeks) since the last promotion. It’s gotten barely a fraction of the downloads it got the first time. I need to be more patient.

Also, something I need to take into consideration as I plan this out for the future. While the rankings of all the other books have improved and, so far, stayed in better position than their starting points, my page reads have tanked over the last week.

page-reads

That may have nothing at all to do with this promotion scheme, but you can bet it’s something I’ll be keeping an eye on going forward.

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For an indie author, the reality is that you’re never working on just one task. There are always other things that need attention, too. And I’m not just talking about real life things like walking the dog, doing the laundry, or fixing dinner.

One of those tasks is marketing the books that are already out. I likely don’t spend nearly enough time on this. I’m not very good at it and writing new stories is so much more fun. Therefore, this month, along with working on the prequel to BECOME and on improving my time management, I’ve been trying something suggested by a fellow writer.

For the last two weeks, I’ve checked on the Amazon ranking of my books, picked the two lowest (with certain caveats) and made them free for a day. The only promotion I do is to create a tweet and post it in a couple of my Facebook groups for retweets. It costs nothing–at least nothing out of pocket and only a little time to put the tweet together.

Each time, I’ve given away about 250 books. Some of those might be new readers who wouldn’t have tried one of my books otherwise. Some might even leave a review. But the main goal is to inch those books up in the rankings to make them more visible on Amazon.

Over the two weeks, I’ve learned a few things:

First, I’m going to have to revise that schedule. Maybe only do one book a week and possibly skip a week now and then. This is because my catalog currently consists of:

  1. Three stand-alone novels. (THE BARD’S GIFT, FIRE AND EARTH, and DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING)
  2. Two series. (Chimeria (currently BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER) and DUAL MAGICS (THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, THE VOICE OF PROPHECY, BEYOND THE PROPHECY, and WAR OF MAGIC).
  3. Three boxed sets (BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC; CHIMERIA , DUAL MAGICS )
  4. And a handful of shorter works. (“Heart of Oak”, “The Music Box”, “Becoming Lioness”, “Wyreth’s Flame”, and “Modgud Gold”)

I’ve already done a one-day promotion for each of the stand-alones and for BLOOD WILL TELL. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE isn’t eligible until March because I ran a Kindle Countdown deal for it already this period and you can’t do both within the 90-day enrollment period.

I have deep concerns about the utility of running this kind of free promotion for subsequent books in a series or the shorter fiction. And I’m not willing to give away the boxed sets. I might do a one-day discount on them, though.

But the other, perhaps more interesting, thing that I learned is that it mostly worked–with one glaring exception. Three of the four books I’ve tried so far have gone up in the rankings and, while they have slipped back a little over time, they have not gone back to their previous ranking yet.

The fourth book actually ranks lower now than it did before the promotion. That book is DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.

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And now I have to figure out why. I have some ideas I’m working on. More on that next time.

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