My First Free Promo

If you read my previous post, you got the part where I continuously checked for sales of my ebook Another Place on the Planet once I put it up for sale on Amazon. Two weeks ago, I had a great day doing that.

I made my book free for the weekend. If you publish on Kindle and use KDP select, you get 5 free days every 90 days, or the ability to do a countdown sale. I chose free since I’m new and need exposure about as bad as seedlings needs the sun.

So that was all well and good, but how to let the world know?

First, I made a Facebook ad that looked like this:

Capture

 

I budgeted $35 a day for three days and paid by the click. So every time someone on Facebook saw it and clicked on it, which took them to the Amazon buy page, I was charged. When you reach your daily budget, the ad comes down for the rest of the day. It averaged roughly .50 a click. Over three days, the ad was clicked 194 times. When I set up the ad I was able to define my target audience. I chose authors and TV shows with themes similar to the book. There are several other parameters FB lets you select, It was pretty easy. I have no idea if any of those clicks led to downloads. FB told me of a possible audience of 78,000,000 in the US, UK and Australia, the ad reached over 43,000.

I also paid a couple places that advertise free books. One was $10 for one day, the other $15 for 3 days. I found several other places that will advertise your free book for free, if they have the room. There are also tons of Facebook pages that connect free books with seekers and others that will post your book, free or not. They each work differently. That’s pretty time consuming, too.

Overall, I guess I did okay. Friday, there were just over 600 downloads, Saturday, 230, and Sunday, 90 something, for a total of 918. So, now there are that many people with my book on their device. Hopefully some will read it and a few of those will leave a good review. Maybe some will come looking for Book 2 in about 6 weeks. It didn’t lead to any sales afterwards. I guess you need downloads in the tens of thousands for that.

Anwwhoo–What I Learned:

1. I’m only going to do another FB ad when I will be selling books for a price. It was interesting and not discouraging, but I don’t want to keep spending money on free when there are free ways to advertise.

2. There are plenty of places to post your book. I need to become diligent it seek them out, getting used to the variables and using them on a somewhat daily basis.

3. Just do one free day at a time.

4. Try a .99 sale.

So, I’m a bit more savvy about the process. We’ll see what happens next. Now, to go work on the next one…

Thanks for reading!

 

To Free or Not To Free…and Bookcover Update

Sorry, just had to grab that title. I’m debating whether to give my book away for a day or two. There are pros and cons.

Pros: More downloads. Who doesn’t like free? More readers, more reviews, maybe. More exposure leading to more sales. Do people who download free books write reviews? I do because as an indie author I know that’s what is needed to sell books. I suspect most people don’t. Free boosts your ranking on Amazon’s things temporarily and sales get better for a few days. You can try out new genres and authors with no dollar commitment. Libraries are good for that, too, although mostly limited to traditionally published authors.

Cons: I worked hard on my book! For literally years. I want people to read it, sure, but I also want to make a little money. Some people have thousands of free books on their ereaders. And dozens, if not hundreds more free books become available every day. I have downloaded a few of varying degrees of skill and genres. If people get used to free books, will they ever buy one from an unknown writer? Are indie authors jeopardizing our futures by giving things away now? I know some authors who have given away tens of thousands of books and sold a few hundred. Granted, much more than I’ve sold…

I guess time will tell on that one. Indie publishing and marketing is still relatively new and most readers still rely on paper books so the dust has yet to settle. There are at least three pages on Facebook that post free Kindle books. I think they somehow make a little money with their sites.

Right now, I’m thinking when I get my next book out there–probably Whatever Doesn’t Kill You–I’ll do the free thing. Then, if someone likes it, I’ll have another book they can buy that will have a sequel in a few months. I’m not very business-gifted. I don’t know how to play in that sandbox.

But, in the meantime, I finalized the cover for Another Place on the Planet. I went with the pink, but rearranged and added a flower and used the cubism effect. I really like it. Using GIMP, it has 10 layers, if you know what that means. I’ve improved my skills on that program all by myself, using the little  couple people showed me. I’ll utilize the same model for the other two books, using different lily varieties and colors.

So, that’s the latest mental wanderings of this indie author. Have a great weekend!

Bookcover Blues

Posts here had been getting slightly more frequent. Then I took a temp job. In the fall I worked with Harvard U. and the U. of Michigan doing field research for four weeks. I’m back at it for three. My brain is kind of dead when I get back, at least for writing. Maybe from talking too much all day. I have four days left. Might be a good time to rethink the cover for Another Place on the Planet. Hopefully, a new cover will improve sales.

One of many challenges for undersourced indie authors is the issue of book covers. As with anything, a book cover can be bought from a graphic artist. I suppose finding someone who will understand your vision for your book’s audience, genre and story can involve quite a bit of finger (keyboard) work. And I also imagine how much you spend doesn’t necessarily dictate the end result. It’s equally possible to get something awesome from an inexpensive but sympathetic new graphic artist as it is to get something unusable from a highly paid pro.

But, with no budget, I’m left to my own devices. I have a little design background and a natural visual talent. I’m working my was through GIMP, a free program similar to Photoshop. I like learning, but wish it didn’t take so much time.

Scrapped when I saw proof copy.
New and improved?

I don’t think many people get the minimalist image I developed for the cover I published with. I spent days and days on GIMP getting the lines as uniform as I could. I redid it when I received the first printed proof and spent more days reshaping the faces, which lots of people don’t see. My daughter said I should lose the purple and the curly romantic font. Perhaps I should.
 (Side note: I had a Jane Eyre book cover on my desk and used Michael Fassbender’s photo as a model for the male face on the new cover. Happy coincidence!)

First attempt at GIMP and cover design.

This is my first cover. My nephew took the photo of the lily. We had a photo shoot. This one turned out way too pink. A couple people in my critique group say it’s not what they pictured. Not that I should base everything on others’ opinions, but outside input is helpful.

The latest effort.

My most recent, I do not love. The photos capture elements of the story, but the they’re bland, I think. It looks more like a “normal” book cover. However, it doesn’t capture the spirit of the book.

The newest idea would include orange lilies, swirl brushes, maybe a female figure, and a orangey-yellow-gold color scheme.

My thinking has rarely meshed with that of the crowd, but I want to sell to the crowd. That’s where I want to share my little bit of insight or whatever my book has to offer. What’s a dorky author to do? Sigh.

I think I will know the perfect cover when I see it. How many will I have to create before that happens?

Meanwhile, I changed to the new cover on Smashwords and Amazon.

What do you look for in a book cover? Have you ever questioned the cover after you finished the book?

Unintended Consequences of Writing # 1: Fangirl

 So, I’m a late bloomer. Or maybe, I like to take my time checking out social phenomena before I decide to risk embarrassment.

Barnabas Collins–I never quite got it.
My first love-Michael Cole

When I was a girl, back in the Dark Ages of the Dark Shadows TV series and the live-action Batman, my peers were gaga for Barnabas Collins (don’t know the actor) and Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin) and whoever else was the flavor of the month. They bought the teen magazines and tabloids and did the whole teeny-bopper squeal thing. Oh, and the Monkees and Davy Jones, holy cats! Me, not so much. It made me sick. I relented and maybe bought 1 magazine and pulled out a picture of Michael Cole who played Pete on The Mod Squad.

I’ve always tended to live in my head because I often found reality uninteresting. And the stories I made up usually involved some male TV heroes–Steve McGarrett and Dan-o (Hawaii 5-0), Sam Beckett (Quantum Leap) Mr. Spock (Original Star Trek), Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek TNG). Yes, this even continued into adulthood. I managed to be functional-mostly, maybe. My home was never condemned, my family was fed and I held down a job or two or three and went back to school, plus volunteer stuff.

In my last post, I shared that I had to research filmmaking because the movie director, Charlie, walked into my head to be the love interest of my MC, Lily. He’s interesting, all right. But, I digress.

So besides reading books about filmmaking, I also started going to more movies at the theaters, something I never did much of before. I also began watching more movies at home more carefully. They became more than stories made with moving pictures and hopefully a theme.

James Franco

I noticed they had ACTORS. AKA, men. Please note, I was never boy crazy. I had 4 brothers-enough to make a girl not care so much about boys, knowing the true nature of the beasts. So, at my advanced age, noticing actors was like a mini-epiphany, or at least something new to look at and learn about. And I could call it “Research.”

The first actor to catch my fancy was James Franco. I hadn’t seen anything he was in at that point, but he showed up all the time In Entertainment Weekly. I liked the fact he was studying filmmaking at one school, design somewhere else and English or something somewhere else. Plus he was putting on a show of his artwork and publishing a book of short stories. A Renaissance Man after my own heart. I liked him a lot in 127 Hours. Not as impressed with The Planet of the Apes.

Here’s a cutie. Aaron Eckhart

Next, there’s Aaron Eckhart who has a large body of work for somebody who’s not a household name. Cute, too. I think by now I’ve managed to see most of his movies and have found a few gems in there like Neverwas, Suspect Zero and Possession. I especially liked him in Rabbit Hole. In his mid-forties, he’s the oldest of my “pretend boyfriends,” as my sister-in-law calls her favorites.

Michael Fassbender

Finally, Michael Fassbender. He’s been hot lately, but I haven’t seen it all. I wrote a post about going to see Shame as research for sex addiction (thanks, Charlie). Then I watched him in Hunger, the story about Bobby Sands, who died from the hunger strike he was on to protest the treatment of members of the IRA in the British run prison. Lots of (gasp!) full frontal nudity in those two. Last week, I watched A Bear Named Winnie, a family flick about a Canadian WWI soldier who keep a bear cub that eventually inspired Winnie the Pooh. The way his character loved that bear…mm mm. Sweet!

And I swear I saw Ryan Reynolds at Yosemite last year. Twice. And he waved to me.

Yeah, so, this is all kind of embarrassing to admit, but given the fact nobody forced me, I guess I had to get it out of my system. And knowing there other fangirls of my general age makes it not so scary.

Philip K. Dick “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
Philip K. Dick, I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

Coming soon: Unintended Consequences of Writing #2: Baring of the Soul

Writing What You Know

When I started my first novel, A Box of Rain–well, technically the second–in 2008, I followed the old advice-write what you know. I knew very little about novel writing or myself as a writer at that point. I knew about teaching and schools. So, it started out about a teacher who’s marriage is going to hell fast. She develops a relationship with another teacher who helps her through and they fall in love, etc. In the end, she ends up a teacher married to a teacher, which is actually quite common. And boring and predictable–to me, anyway. It didn’t help that I was disillusioned with the education field, big time.

I devised an alternate ending which involved a relationship with somebody who wasn’t a teacher and that was better, but…meh.

So I thought, who would take my MC, challenge her to the nth degree and put her in an environment she never planned on. Hmm. I remember sitting on my sofa, laptop on lap and thinking…an actor. Meh…maybe. Ah! A movie director! This became Another Place on the Planet.

But, I knew very little about filmmaking. But this director character stuck with me. He wasn’t going away. So, I researched filmmaking.

For about a year, I checked out and read books from the library about directing, producing, assistant directing, the language and little recognized but important areas of making movies. I found websites and studied a lot about the politics and lifestyles. I am by no means an expert, but I know more than I used to and it was enjoyable.I appreciate movies on different levels so much more. It made me wish I wouldn’t have given up on my theatrical leanings in my college days and would have pursued some field of it like costume or set design. Much like my MC wishes she wouldn’t have dropped her music.

My next stand alone novel, What Doesn’t Kill You, involves filmmaking, too, to a degree. I figured why waste all that new knowledge I had acquired? I threw in dressmaking, of which I know a bunch. And Leukemia, which I also am familiar with.

My sequel to Another Place on the Planet is Places Bright and Dark and has me researching sex addiction, co-addiction and recovery. I’m slightly amazed at how some of the knew information I’m already familiar with. Writing what I know. Hmmm…

Technopublishing

Holy cats! My brain is smoking. Since yesterday, I formatted my novel, Another Place on the Planet, uploaded the PDF and revised cover to CreateSpace for a new proof. I messed up somehow and think I have to do the proof thing again. I formatted a friend’s novel over the weekend and went to her place to submit it to Snowfall Press where she wants to publish and print. Today, I formatted Another Place for Smashwords and got it there for purchase. Hopefully it can go in their premium collection right away. Also, set up a website with my bush league neophyte skills on Google sites. Signed up for Goodreads, made a new author friend there…anything else? Maybe. Maybe tomorrow, I can actually write… This business to sell gets in the was of generating products to sell! Maybe one day I can hire it out. Even though I do like doing it. I think.

Writing Is Making Choices

I’m once again revising my first novel, Another Place on the Planet. On the advice of my editor, I am deleting several scenes which will help in several ways. One of the scenes is a rape which I threw in as a plot device. It took on a life of it’s own. And now I know my handling of it didn’t do justice to the violence and terror women suffer when raped. I’ve never been raped so I could only imagine. I didn’t imagine enough. I’ve never done a lot of things my main character, Lily, does and experiences.

The internet is a labyrinth. We all click on a link and hours later found ourselves topics and cyber miles from where we began. I have to admit I have learned a lot that way, as well as squandered precious hours when I could have been more productive. Tonight I clicked on a link to a screenwriting blog I follow and watched the video there that took me to YouTube where I watched a short film called  Train. Just out of curiosity.

That led to a click on this short film. I found it very graphic and disturbing. But it did me the favor of confirming the writing choice I need to make. I hadn’t seen it before but there are several similarities to the scene I wrote. Three men violating one woman. Dark, lonely place. Urinating on the victim. My imagination scares me sometimes. The men in my scene are teens and less invested in the activity than the ones in the video, so it doesn’t go as badly for Lily. That kind of trauma and the ensuing legal complications need an entire book.

How men treat women is a minor theme in Another Place on the Planet. I pray for the day when men treat all women as they would their mother or daughter or sister, and men who can’t even do that are no more.

 

1 Timothy 5:1-2 (The Message)

 Don’t be harsh or impatient with an older man. Talk to him as you would your own father, and to the younger men as your brothers. Reverently honor an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters. 

 

The end is near–if only I could write it

I have until Sunday night to finish my book, Another Place on the Planet. I just have to hack it out to get it done. I don’t have a flair for snappy endings. Heck, I’m not even sure I have a flair for decent writing, but I try.

Another Place is an alternate ending to my first novel, A Box of Rain, which I wrote for my first NaNoWriMo in 2008 when the the writing bug bit and I became infected. I think some parts of the story were good for my first attempt, and I had some nice compliments from my critique group, (Glendale Writer’s Critique Group) although none of them liked the main character’s love interest. It had an ending. But as I thought about it, I wasn’t satisfied. After all, it’s a romance and all the ending promised was stability with a nice guy. As escape material, I thought, “Boring!”

So, I had the MC meet another potential love who was a bit more interesting. And I liked that and hopefully had the reader wondering who was going to get the girl, the MC. But then I took it one step beyond and Another Place on the Planet was born and has grown and grown and…

I have enough material for at least three books. I started last May and spent almost a year writing scenes, rewriting a few, taking different twists but couldn’t get it all focused so this summer I said, “Trilogy!” We’ll see what a publisher, if any, says.

But first I have to write the end of the first book. Then I have to revise and see if it all makes sense and where I can improve conflict and sexual tension, etc. I have to focus on the unseen details that make it tight and readable, that make it flow. It’s quite the learning process. Not as much fun as devising new situations for two characters I’ve come to love. But any good writer knows that most of writing is rewriting.

I’ve been finding if I get bogged down and can’t move the story forward I need to take a short break from it. Maybe work for a day or two on my current screenplay or watch a few movies or read some fiction or a combination of all of the above. I do have a couple of Netflix I’ve been looking forward to viewing, Precious and Through a Glass Darkly. So, maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Also must edit my critique group submission for this week and critique the submissions from last time.

My free time is rapidly drawing to a close. I went into my smelly new classroom today and filled up my desk and put a personal-type bulletin board up where I hang important papers I need often and things the kids give me. I’ll have 90 kids this year instead of 70. Besides Science and Social Studies, I hear they’ve tacked on Writing, so I’ll have 90 kids to read for. Hmmm…I’m not going to let it cut into much of my writing time. Keep it short, stupid. KISS.