Monday, December 25, 2017

Goodreads Giveaway to Include Kindle Books! Updated!

Authors who use Amazon owned GoodReads to promote their books using the GoodReads Giveaway promotional program will be interested to know the Kindle Giveaway program is returning.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing authors will be able to promote their Kindle editions using two different packages, the Standard ($119) and the Premium ($599). The new promotional programs go live on January 9, 2018.

Please note: Special introductory prices are available from January 9 to January 31, 2018. The Standard Package will be on sale for $59 and the Premium Package will be on sale for $299.

Taken from the Goodreads Giveaway blog post announcing the new program changes.

What’s the difference between the Standard package and the Premium package?

The two packages are as follows:

1. Standard Giveaway (Print or Kindle ebook format) $119 per giveaway. Introductory price: $59 (save 50%) from 01/09/18 to 01/31/18.
  • (NEW) Everyone who enters your giveaway automatically adds the book to their Want-to-Read list, promoting your book via updates in their friends’ updates feeds, and building an audience for your title.
  • (NEW) The author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification, letting them know there’s a giveaway starting. This helps generate even more entries, creating more stories in the Goodreads updates feed.
  • About eight weeks after your Giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book. This will help other readers discover and decide to read the book too.
  • Giveaways are featured in the Giveaways section of, allowing readers to discover new books.
2. Premium Giveaway (Print or Kindle) $599 per giveaway. Introductory price: $299 (save 50%) from 01/09/18 to 01/31/18. Premium Giveaways include all the benefits of the Standard package, but are designed to give you more opportunity to connect with readers than ever. A Premium Giveaway also includes:
  • (NEW) Premium placement on Goodreads’ Giveaways page with tens of millions of visitors each month, giving your giveaway significantly more visibility and more entrants.
Alas, this also means the end of the free Giveaway program. All Giveaway's scheduled prior to January 9, 2018, will run as in the past until completed. 

Important Update:  Additional communication with Goodreads has clarified the costs involved. If you wish to giveaway physical, print copies of your book, the system works as it has in the past. The author will be notified of the winner identity and is then required to mail the print copies to the winners.

In the case of a Kindle edition giveaway, the author must pay for the Kindle copies given away as well and Goodreads will handle the giveaway.

It is hard to say if the marketing value of this program will be. For many authors, the cost of paying for both the books given away and the price of the program may be prohibitive.

I do like the fact the program now adds the book to every participants Want-to-Read list and the winners receive a reminder to review the book.

Like many things, it will require experimentation. I will budget for one use of the Standard Package in the near future and measure the results in terms of participants, reviews (Amazon and Goodreads), and if there is any noticeable rise in actual sales.

For more information please click here.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Grow Your E-Mail List With BookFunnel

"The money is in the list." It's a well known quote from the direct mailing industry and has become axiomatic in the e-mail marketing world as well. For new authors struggling to build a fan base it can be difficult to create that all important e-mail list.

It is important to promote your list in the back matter of your book and on your website. But these aren't going to generate the size of a list needed in a particularly fast manner?


Because you haven't been discovered yet!

How do you get readers to your website unless they learn about it in your book? How do readers learn about your author newsletter if they don't read your book? 

It's not dissimilar to that classic Pink Floyd line:

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding.
How can you have any pudding, if you don't eat your meet?

If nobody reads your book, they won't know about (and sign-up for) your e-mail list.
How can you generate an e-mail list if nobody reads your book?

Of course, the point of the list is to build loyal fans who rabidly buy up every thing you publish.

So how do you build a list quickly?

After seven months I had a grand total of 54 readers signed up for my author's e-mail list. I'd heard about Rafflecopter, investigated it, and ruled it out.

My list, after just two months of using BookFunnel, is now just over 1,200 readers. 

When I reach 10,000 names on my list I might be happy with its size. We'll see.

BookFunnel allows an author to give away their book, or some form of content, in return for subscribing to an e-mail newsletter. It's that simple.

If you use any of the following e-mail services, BookFunnel allows for direct integration of the collected e-mails into your e-mail service contact list.
  • ActiveCampaign
  • AWeber
  • ConvertKit
  • MailChimp
  • MailerLite
I use MailChimp and the integration was easy. So easy, I got it right the first time. I promise you, that seldom happens.

I'm also happy to inform authors interested in this service, BookFunnel's customer support has been great. The two problems I had were both my fault and were resolved for me by BookFunnel in less than 24 hours. 

Here is a comparison of the features for each of the three plans:

I use the Mid-list plan and doubt I will ever need to move up to the Bestseller list.

The one feature that has enabled me to grow my list to over 1,000 readers in less than two months is the Promotion feature.

Shown below are the promotions I have joined. Some have finished. Others have yet to run and still others are recruiting additional authors. Each promo will have its own guidelines. Some will require you have an e-mail list with a minimum of 1,000 subscribers.

Don't worry, there will be promotions that are happy to give authors just starting their list a break. I was fortunate to join several and now that I'm past the pesky 1,000 subscriber's mark it is easier for me to join more promotions.

Each promotion's creator will have their own requirements to join and participate. For example, you might have to post on social media, include the promotion to your existing e-mail list, etc. The promotions are genre specific so you need to make sure your book or story fits the genre.

There are lots of other features worth considering offered by BookFunnel and I plan to integrate them into my marketing as time allows me to learn how to use the various features.

This service is well worth the $10 a month I pay and has saved me untold time and frustration in building a functional list.

Check it out. You'll be glad you did!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Draft2Digital Now Offers FREE eBook Interior Design Templates

The word FREE generally catches my eye. But, if you are like me, you've been burned enough to be wary of anything obtained for free. Let's face it, you get what you pay for.

In this instance though, Draft2Digital's new service is worth the ten or fifteen minutes it will take to see how your ebook looks in one of the available templates. If you have already uploaded your book to D2D, it won't take that long.

For those who only make their books available through Amazon, you can still use this feature on D2D. Simply do not take the last step of publishing your book through D2D's distribution service.

The image below shows the step allowing the author to view their book in different formats.

To the left of the preview image you will see a box labeled Choose a Style. In this example below, I selected one from the Mystery and Thriller category named A Clue. It is simple, which I like and beneath the chapter heading inserts a finger print. The Classy Mystery format uses a magnifying glass as well as ornate artwork around the chapter heading.

Once you have settled on the format you like best, you can download the file in one of three formats, .mobi, epub, or pdf. For Amazon exclusive authors, you then upload that file to your KDP page as your interior file.

Like anything Draft2Digital does, this is an easy to use process. You don't have to download anything or have any special skills.

Below is an example of a page from my novel The Predator and The Prey using the A Clue design.

Here is the same page using the Classy Mystery format.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Finally - An Effective, Low-cost Way to Promote KDP FREE Days!

The competition in the fiction market is fierce. If you're like me, the problem you face is not that readers don't like your story. It's the fact you're having a hard time getting your stories in front of readers.

Thus, the logic behind using KDP Select Free days, giving your book away for free in order to give readers a chance to "find" your books. Granted, it wrankles a bit to give away something so much time, effort and passion has been invested in, not to mention money, but, you have to help your audience find you.

Since my books are part of a series, I accepted the fact long ago the first book in the series will have to be a loss leader. It will either be free or for sale for .99 cents. Someday in the future is will likely become permafree.

If as an author you are going to give away free copies of your book as part of your marketing strategy, be it to find readers, gain reviews or try to boost sales of other titles in the series, you want to maximize your KDP Free days.

Experimenting with this marketing tactic can be a but frustrating as KDP only allows the author five days per 90 day enrollment period to give away books. Patience is not high on my list of traits when I'm trying to figure out how to best perform a task.

Enrolling your book in individual book promotion services is a time consuming, frustrating task and to be honest, not always particularly effective.

Book Marketing Tools offers a low cost, quick tool that allows an author to list their free days for a mere $29. For twenty minutes of my time and $29, my KDP FREE days were listed on 27 sites that feature free ebooks and have e-mail lists.

The result?

I gave away 3375 copies of The Predator and The Prey in just three days. 

To put that in perspective, the previous best giveaway for that novel was 475 copies in three days.

If I'm going to give it away, then I want to give away as many copies as possible. The KENP pages read for the sequel, Last Train to Nowhere, jumped from 0 to over 2,000 in just a few days and I sold 27 copies at $3.99 in the same time period, so I at least broke even.

In what is certain to be a marathon if I am to reach the size audience I hope to, this is a marketing tactic I will return to repeatedly.

Friday, May 19, 2017

How to Use GoodReads to Generate Amazon and GoodReads Reviews

I had no clue this was a legitimate possibility. Alinka Rutkowska, a successful children's author and author coach, has a new, inexpensive online course to show you how to go about connecting with readers on GoodReads in order to generate reviews.

In the course of the nine years I have been self-publishing, I have managed to waste a fair amount of money on books, courses, etc, claiming to help me sell more books. Some have been worth the money I spent. Most have not.

Alinka's course was not only inexpensive, I managed to reach out to multiple readers who like the style of novel I write and give good reviews! It took me 30 minutes to elicit 8 readers to accept a free copy of my novel.

Part of why it took 30 minutes was the need for me to re-watch the online class to figure out to how to work my way around GoodReads, a site I don't find particularly intuitive.

I've learned three things are going to be important to market and sell my fiction. 
  • I have to get readers to discover the series.
  • I have to get reviews for the first book in the series.
  • I need people to sign-up for my e-newsletter list.
 Alinka's system will help with all three.

I realize this sounds like a cheesy sales pitch. I'm terrible at this sort of writing. Also, for full disclosure the link below is an affiliate link. I wouldn't pitch this if I didn't think the information was worthwhile. 


For purposes of comparison, I twice spent $47 for Bookrazor's service to obtain a list of 100 Amazon reviewers. Out of those two hundred plus names and e-mails, I generated a grand total of six reviews.

Alinka's course cost $15 and I learned how to find reviewers and how to contact them without spending money. My investment was time. 


I'm not unhappy about the money I spent with Bookrazor. They did exactly what they advertised. But learning how to find and contact reviewers for my book without spending any money is what my budget needs. 




Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Download a FREE Copy of The Predator and The Prey! Meet Inspector Thomas Sullivan!

From May 16 through the 20th, The Predator and The Prey, the first book in my Inspector Thomas Sullivan series of scifi thrillers is FREE via Amazon's Kindle.

Meet Inspector Thomas Sullivan as he arrives at his new home world, the frozen planet Beta Prime. Get to know how this tough inspector goes about cleaning up crime in the corrupt, often dark Capital City.

Along the way Sully meets a lot of interesting people, some of whom will join the Inspector in trying to make life better for others. Some of these people simply look out for Number One.

Visit the cold planet with two moons. See how you like it.

Sign-up for The Inspector's Report, my bi-monthly newsletter, and download a free short story!

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Last Train To Nowhere Now In Print - Available for FREE in a GoodReads Giveaway!

The second novel in Inspector Thomas Sullivan Series, Last Train to Nowhere, is now available from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback editions!

Enter to win a signed copy from a GoodReads Giveaway! The contest will end June 10, 2017.


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        Last Train To Nowhere by K.C. Sivils



          Last Train To Nowhere


          by K.C. Sivils


            Giveaway ends June 10, 2017.

            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.




    Enter Giveaway

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Facebook in Decline? What Impact Will It Have On Publishing?

I don't understand social media, which I suppose is an indicator in part of my age and Luddite ways. I teach at a "technology school" and have been forced to embrace the use of technology far more than I would if left to my own devices. 

Of all the forms of social media, the only one I have partially come to grips with is Facebook. I have two accounts. An author account I set up in the last year because "everyone" says you need one to connect with your readers and one my daughters set up so they could use it go gain "points" for a game they played on Facebook.

The unexpected benefit was I have been discovered by old classmates, students and players I have coached an its been fun. I don't know if it's helped expand my audience as an author, but that's okay.

So, given the fact I am slowly coming to grips with Facebook and how to use it, it's a little disturbing to find the article in Digiday announcing publishers are seeing a decline in the reach of their Facebook campaigns.

The focus of the story is on major publishers and news media publishers, but if the decline of reach impacts the big boys, it might have an equal impact on Indie authors who rely on the Facebook platform to build and reach an audience. 

Worth reading.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Special Deal - Four Books for .99 Plus How This Works! Book Promotion Opportunity Using Book Boast!

Four books for .99!
Ashley L. Hunt eBook Categories
- Cyberpunk Anthology Adventure
- Science Fiction Action Military Romance
- Dystopian Survival Post Apocalyptic Romance
- SciFi Romance Adventure Thriller
- Mystery Thriller Suspense Occult Romance

The readers who prefer the above categories, they will LOVE this eBook!

Includes 4 full-length, no-cliffhanger stories and 2 Big Surprises!

Thank you for reading!

For more details about this offer just click here!

Why am I promoting another author's work on my blog? It's part of a program authors can sign-up for and enlist the aid of other authors to promote their work. Ideally, this promotion would be going out to a couple of thousand potential readers on my e-mail list.

Unfortunately for A.L. Hunt, my list is not that big. So I promised I would post the information on her sale on the sites I do have so she can at least get exposure there.

To learn more about the "Newsletter Swap," visit 

It's free to join and easy to use. Once you have joined, you search through the list of available authors and find those with similar genres to yours. Contact them using the swap request form and schedule your swap. You include their book promotion in your newsletter and they will include your own promotion in their newsletter.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Comparing Two Promotional Campaigns: KDP Select vs. Goodreads Giveaway

Getting the word out about a novel, especially a first novel, is important. Sales really aren't AS important as building an audience is. The same is true for non-fiction if you are planning on writing multiple books. Loyal readers, and the more of them you have, equals lots of dependable sales in the future.

Promotions are part of how authors spread the word about their novels. Since my first novel The Predator and The Prey has been published I have run two promotions. The first was a standard KDP Select Free giveaway. The second was a GoodReads Giveaway.

For those of you who have not heard of a GoodReads Giveaway, the program is simple. You sign your book up for a Giveaway. You can give away as few as one hard copies up to as many as you want. Set the duration of the giveaway, which includes start and ending dates, add a link to your book on Amazon and include some other basic product information and you're done.

GoodReads will pick the winners using an algorithm to randomly select the winners. You are responsible to mail the winners their complimentary copies within three weeks. There are restrictions limiting the contact you can have. This is not a list building promotion.

How did my novel do and which program worked better?

I gave away three signed paperback copies of The Predator and The Prey. A total of 652 people participated and 262 readers added The Predator and The Prey to their to-read list.

The KDP Select Free Giveaway resulted in 475 downloads. Which program resulted in better results?

To be honest, I wish the results of both had been better. The good thing is both programs are can be run multiple times, giving me more opportunities to gain exposure for my novel.

First, Amazon, who owns GoodReads, doesn't provide some data from either promotion I would really like to have, namely how many people looked at my cover, book description, title, etc, and just moved on without taking action.

Still, data of any kind is important and knowing how many readers were interested enough to download a free copy, register for a contest for a free copy and to add the book to their to-read list is a good start.

Even better data would be to know how many readers who downloaded their free copy during the KDP Select giveaway days actually read their free copy. If I had the time and inclination, I could determine the number of readers who added the novel to their to read list and actually read it later, but I'll leave that up to someone far smarter than me to write the program that does that task.

On the surface, it looks like GoodReads might be better even though it cost me the price of three paperback copies and postage since 652 people wanted a free copy, a difference of some 177 readers. Forty percent of those 652 readers indicated they plan to read The Predator and The Prey in the future.

I plan to run more campaigns for the novel in the future using both promotions. In the case of the KDP promotion I will use all five days at one time to see if that produces better results. I will use a book promotion service to promote the giveaway on the third day in an effort to obtain more free downloads.

For the GoodReads Giveaway I will run a slightly shorter campaign and offer more free copies. GoodReads claims ten copies is the ideal number and I'll test that theory. Why fewer days for the giveaway? Nearly a third of the registrations for the giveaway came in the first few days when the book was easy to find on the Recently Listed page. The majority came when the book made the Ending Soon list while registrations languished while the book was in the middle of the two types of listings. To put it simply, people don't wade through the hundreds of books that fall in between the two listings which is why I'm going to try shortening the length of my promotion.

If you haven't done a GoodReads Giveaway yet let me encourage you to do so. GoodReads has data that indicates roughly two thirds of the readers who receive the free copies leave reviews. That's not too bad. Also, the people who belong to GoodReads are avid readers and recommend books to their friends and followers. If there was ever a place to build an audience, GoodReads is certainly a place to exert effort.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cover Design for The Predator and The Prey Earns Recognition

I was excited to learn today the cover design for my first novel, The Predatory and The Prey, was a finalist out of 90 designs for the February 2017 cover design contest hosted each month by the good folks at Marin Bookworks, also known as the website The Book Designer.

The real winner is the artist who designed the cover, Robin Ludwig of Robin Ludwig Designs. She really caught the spirit of what the story is about in her design. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

GoodReads Giveaway for The Predator and The Prey

From March 6 until March 24, three signed copies of The Predator and The Prey are up for grabs in a GoodReads Giveaway!

Click here to participate in the FREE Giveaway. You'll need a GoodReads account to take advantage of the giveaway. There is nothing to buy and GoodReads will notify you if you win. I'll mail the signed copy to you within two weeks of your winning!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Predator and the Prey by Sivils

The Predator and the Prey

by Sivils

Giveaway ends March 24, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday, February 27, 2017

GoodReads Giveaway Versus KDO Select FREE Days Promotion

I just finished a three day FREE campaign on Amazon KDP Select for my novel The Predator and The Prey. Despite advertising and promoting the campaign, I only had 475 downloads. The book managed to climb as high as Number Three in the Top 100 Free for Noir Crime.

The Predator and The Prey climbed to Number Six in the Top 100 Free in Science Fiction Adventure.

It could be argued I should have used all five days to let the campaign gain momentum. Looking at my data you can see that was not a likely outcome.


February 24 was the best day with 229 downloads. February 25 saw a total of 162 downloads with a total of 84 downloads on the final day, February 26, for a total of 475 copies downloaded. 

I'm not sure what my results were supposed to have been. For the categories my book belongs to this might an excellent result. I've also read a good campaign should result in around 5,000 downloads. With that as a standard, my novel didn't do so well.

Without something to compare to, I have no idea, beyond the comment made by a blogger I cannot remember, to determine if this was a decent result.

Any reader who has data on their novel's FREE KDP Select campaign and is willing to share, I would love to hear how your book did and how you organized your campaign.

There has been no uptick in sales and it will be awhile before any reviews might be forthcoming.

My next campaign to promote The Predator and The Prey will be a GoodReads Giveaway promotion. Starting March 6 and running till March 24, I will be offering three signed copies of The Predator and The Prey in the Giveaway Promotion.

For those not familiar with this promotional tactic, and I wasn't until recently, it might be an effective way to promote your book, fiction or non-fiction, all at a very low cost.

To participate in the program as an author or a reader, you must have a GoodReads account. 

The image above shows the left portion of the GoodReads toolbar at the top of the page. Click on browse and you will see a listing of a variety of possible choices in the drop down menu, one of which will be Giveaways.

The image show above shows the options you will see when you click on Giveaways. Books can be found in any of the four possible categories. If you look at the far right of the image you will see the options you have to choose from, one of which is to list a Giveaway. Click on this and you will see the form below appear.

You will need to read the rules, terms, etc, of the agreement. GoodReads uses an algorithm to determine the winner or winners. You will be notified who the winners are and have three weeks to deliver the prize, the print copy of your book.

If you will note, there is an option that is already checked below the box requiring the reader to acknowledge they have read the terms of the giveaway. That little box will add your book to every participating reader's To Read Bookshelf.

Readers like to see what their friends on GoodReads are reading. Like reviews on Amazon, being displayed on a To Read shelf is social affirmation the book is worth checking out. Data provided to me by GoodReads when I created my first campaign for The Predator and The Prey stated the average number of reviews garnered from a Giveway is 60%. In other words, give away ten copies and you should receive six reviews. 

Before I run another campaign on KDP Select, I plan to collect the data from my March Giveaway program to compare.

I can run as many campaigns for my book as I want so long as they are not simultaneous. This will allow me to generate data I can compare on length of campaign, how I promoted it, the number of readers who signed up for the promotion. Based on the norm, I will also pick up reviews.

Lately I have been reading the FREE campaign on KDP Select has lost a lot of its effectiveness. I can speculate as to why. Kindle Unlimited is how Amazon wants readers to read free books, not downloading my FREE promotional copies. So Amazon just changes its algorithm to reflect that desired change.

GoodReads on the other hand lets me run a promotion that only involves giving away a few paperback copies (as low as one and as high as I want. The supposed best number of copies to offer, signed of course, is ten). I then get the benefit of reviews and social affirmation of having my book, with its cover image, listed on as many readers To Read Bookshelves as signed up for the giveaway promotion.

As far as I am concerned, the only real advantage of having a book listed in KDP Select is the ability to have five FREE days of giveaways. If GoodReads has a better promotion than KDP Select, it opens up the possibility of listing the book on Draft2Digital for sale on other retail platforms (I prefer to use a distributor than to go to the trouble of uploading the file individually to each platform).
Again, if any author has had experience with a GoodReads Giveaway promotion and is willing to share their thoughts about the program, positive or negative, please share in the comments.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Predator and The Prey FREE for Three Days on KDP Select!

My novel The Predator and The Prey is FREE for three days on KDP Select, February 24-26, 2017.

Take advantage of this limited three day offer and meet my anti-hero Thomas Sullivan!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

KDP Offering a Beta Paperback Program? UPDATED

In the process of updating the interior file for my novel, The Predator and The Prey, I noticed Kindle Direct Publishing is now offering a Beta program for paperback versions of your Kindle book.

I have always used CreateSpace to provide a paperback edition for my books using print-on-demand. Since my books are already available in paperback, I quickly glossed over the link to learn more about this new option.

That is until my cursor stopped on the link on its own accord one day and my eye caught the 60% royalty figure! KDP offers the author 60% of the net after printing costs and the author sets the price for the book. That's a better deal than the 40% I get now from CreateSpace!

There are some drawbacks you need to be aware of. At this moment, KDP does NOT offer physical proof copies. That's a deal breaker for me at the moment. I have to be able to get printed proof copies for a variety of reasons. But that 60% is so alluring.

At the time of this post, KDP does not offer the ability for the author to purchase bulk copies at wholesale, offer expanded distribution to bookstores and non-Amazon sites and it does not offer professional services.

If you are used to using CreateSpace, this really isn't that big a deal. Set your book up on CreateSpace. When it is ready to release, move it to KDP.

It is pure speculation on my part, but I have a hard time believing KDP isn't using CreateSpace to provide this service. When I speculate though, I generally get myself in trouble so perhaps this is another internal to Amazon POD service, set up to compete with its own CreateSpace. See where speculation gets you?

For now, I plan to experiment by transferring a few of my existing non-fiction titles and seeing how it works out.

You see, there's a catch. Once you transfer the files to KDP - you're committed.

If anyone has used this service, please comment about your experience.


In the comment section Denise Gaskins pointed out this might be much ado about nothing. I posted a screenshot of her comment below.

This brought to mind a quote I value from General Douglas MacArthur, "Don't give orders that can be understood. Give orders that cannot be misunderstood."

Here is a screenshot from the CreateSpace website showing how royalties are calculated for a B&W 184 page book priced at $8.99.

Based on the example provided and the chart shown above the amounts below are what the various parties will earn.

Here is my math for this example.

$3.60 is 40% of the list price
$3.05 is the total per unit cost for printing a single copy
$2.34 is the author's share of the proceeds in the form of royalty payment.
Sixty percent of the list price goes to printing and author royalty payment.
Based on that math, Denise is indeed correct in her statement.
This leaves me to wonder if KDP has either issued a statement that is deliberately vague to recruit authors to the new KDP paperback program OR is the statement poorly worded and actually does mean author's will receive a higher percentage of the net profits per sale (see MacArthur's quote above).
What would the math look like if the author really is getting a higher percentage of the net?
Based on the example the cost per unit for printing will remain the same at $3.05.

The change would be in the amount paid to authors. Out of the remaining $5.94, my calculator says 40% equals $2.38, or .04 cents more than the example listed for the author royalties.

I interpret this to mean the author is being paid a 40% royalty, give or take a few pennies.

Again, using the example provided by CreateSpace, a 60% royalty would be $3.56, a difference of $1.18, which IS something to crow about over multiple sales.

The question is, which example is the model KDP is using?

Denise, thanks for pointing this out.

KDP's language in regard to the actual amount is vague. An easy to understand example like the one CreateSpace provides would have been helpful, especially considering KDP is basically poaching from a fellow Amazon company and once you make the switch, there is no going back.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Is Social Media Out For Book Promotion And Sales? Is the # Dead?

I had to force myself to commit to using social media as I started the process of trying to build a sustainable author's platform for the launch of my fiction series. After reading more books on the subject than I want to admit to, I managed to sift through the wide ranging advice to come to a few conclusions:
  • It would seem a social media presence is necessary.
  • Not every medium works for every author.
  • Less is more! Pick one and stick to it!
  • Facebook seems to be the most successful medium.
In the process of researching the subject, I came to the conclusion, and so did a lot of other authors, that my own author website and the e-mail list I build are the most valuable components of my author platform. 

My e-newsletter, The Inspector's Report, is meant to be more than a sales tool. In fact, I don't intend to use it for that purpose except for occasional campaigns. It is meant to be a tool to build loyal fans. Fans who will buy my books when a new release is announced or buy the entire series.

It would appear many businesses have reached the same conclusion. Social media might be okay for somethings, but sales is not one of them. Getting traffic to your own site and getting fans signed up to your author's newsletter is more beneficial.

A recent article in the Daily Mail supports this conclusion based on the behavior of advertisers for Superbowl LI. The article quotes Marketing Land as its data source to indicate that of the sixty-six advertisers only 5 mentioned Twitter and 4 mentioned Facebook in their ads while 41% included the company's url address.

To read the rest of the article click here.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Inspector's Report - The All Important Author Newsletter

Not being the most computer savvy individual, it has taken me a bit to get the signup page for my new author's newsletter, The Inspector's Report, up and running.

Of all the things I have tried to market my non-fiction books, the best tool was my e-newsletter. It allowed me to establish myself as an authority on the subject and put all of my titles in front of potential customers.

It was a lot of work, largely because I published it too often. I sent it out once a week for a total of 40 issues a year, slowing the pace only during the summer months. 

I will say this. Each week my Kindle sales spiked one day a week, always during the twenty-four hour period following the release of that week's e-mail.

It takes a lot of time and effort to build an e-mail list. Over an eight year period, my list grew to just over 5,000 subscribers. 

Building a list that size not only takes time, but you have to be aware of the laws surrounding building e-mail lists. 

The Inspector's Report will be a new venture for me. I don't plan to release it on the same grinding basis as I did my other newsletter. Once a week for a one man operation is a guaranteed recipe for burnout.  Once a month is my goal and I hope a far more sustainable schedule.

In addition to announcements concerning new releases of my works of fiction, I plan to include things only the subscribers to the newsletter will receive, such as:
  • Short stories
  • Back history of characters
  • Reviews of the latest work of science fiction or crime noir I've read
  • History of this and that (I'm a history teacher after all)
  • Answers to reader's questions
  • Plus other stuff I hope my readers find of interest
If you'd like to sign-up for the newsletter, The Inspector's Report, even if it's just to see what the newsletter looks like so you can generate some ideas to start your own, please click here.

Monday, January 23, 2017

My Amazon Kindle Scout Campaign - A Brief Review

My Amazon Kindle Scout campaign has ended. Within the next fifteen days I will be notified by Amazon whether or not they will buy the ebook and audio rights to my novel The Predator and The Prey. Regardless of Amazon's decision, the campaign itself was worth doing.

It is often said, and printed, being a financially successful author is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Thirty days is not a long time. When running a promotional campaign it becomes a long time. The value of participating in the Amazon Kindle Scout program is the experience allows you to manage a promotional campaign for your book and collect valuable data.

Let me state upfront I have no idea what value Amazon places on any particular set of data when the Scout TEAM is deciding if a title is worth further consideration. Still, for me, the data is interesting and hopefully I can gather some insights into my efforts to promote and market my book.

When a reader clicks on a title's description page and then decides to nominate the book, the image below is what the reader sees.

I have no idea if any of this data will be provided to me by Amazon, but I would love to see how my book rated in each of these categories. If I could only have one set of data from the campaign, this is what I would find the most valuable. Four important marketing aspects are rated by real readers: cover, book description, title, one-line hook, narrative hook. The first 5,000 words of your novel are also provided for the readers, allowing them to get a feel for whether or not they would want to read the book as well as having a chance to judge the copy editing. Finally, readers may make comments about the book (I might pass on those - unless they are all good!).

By campaign end, I had generated 457 hours out of 720 total hours and over 1,000 page views (1,048) of my description. I have no idea how many nominations qualifies as being "good" nor do I have any idea of how many page views is good.

Without knowing how Amazon interprets the data collected, and being the farthest thing from an analytical statistician, I can only make what I think is a reasonable decision.

Without seeing the data from reader evaluations for the four key areas of attracting a potential buyer/reader, I believe I did a good job. The graph above shows nearly two thirds of my traffic came from readers who visit Amazon Kindle Scout on their own accord (If the books nominated by the reader are selected, they receive free copies. Amazon also has an informal competition of sorts. Stats are provided to readers showing their place, or score if you will, on how well they select books. The more books nominated by the reader that the Scout TEAM selects, the higher the reader ranks).

I have to believe I did a good job with the last three items of the four and my cover designer, Robin Ludwig of Robin Ludwig Design, did a great job with the first item, cover design. I say this, because traffic from external links, traffic generated by my own promotional efforts, only accounted for 35% of traffic.

It could also be that the vast majority of my nominations came from traffic generated by my own campaign, indicating, by my math, that only 15% of the nominations came from organic traffic from Amazon Kindle. My hope is a 15% rate is pretty good, meaning it will generate a lot of sales, if I can get buyers/readers to click through to the product page of my book.

The graph above shows me where I have plenty of room for improvement. I hardly ran a sustained campaign. My efforts peaked early and then floundered in terms of page views. The two peaks in the middle when my efforts lagged are from organic Amazon Kindle traffic. The campaign page traffic mix graph shown above came on the last day of the campaign. Each day the graph changes to reflect the data of the last 24 hours. This allowed me to recognize when the bulk of my visits were a result of days when I believe my campaign was generating traffic and visits on days when my efforts did little or nothing.

I managed to scramble and via hours of work, found and joined numerous Facebook groups founded for the purpose of allowing authors promote their work. If you look at the graph below, you will notice the solid run of 24 hour periods where The Predator and The Prey was in the desired Hot and Trending category. Better preparation on my part might have allowed for a campaign that consisted of almost nothing but days on the Hot and Trending list.

Examination of the data on external traffic sources is show below. If you will note, excluding direct traffic from clicking on a link directly to my books nomination page (traffic generated largely by my efforts in the first few days of the campaign), the overwhelming bulk of external traffic came from two sources, Facebook and a Kboards notice I posted asking authors to nominate my book.

I learned four valuable takeaways from the campaign, regardless of whether or not The Predator and The Prey is picked up by Amazon. The first is have a predetermined way to collect data. If Amazon did not provide the data, I would have had no means by which to evaluate my efforts. Get the data!

Second, my campaign was ill conceived. I started strong and finished strong but was awful in the middle. If my assumption that my cover, etc, did its job, is correct and explains the strong performance of the organic traffic from Amazon Kindle Scout, it makes me want to kick myself for not having strong external sources of traffic pushing readers to my books page the entire thirty day period. 

Amazon loves the long tail. Consistency is important to Amazon. My campaign started okay and ended strong, but lagged in the middle. Better planning in advance would have allowed me to spread my reach and generate more external traffic to my book's campaign page.

If this had been an actual sales campaign, how many sales did I cost myself as a result of a weak performance in the middle of the campaign?

My third takeaway is Facebook is where I will put almost all of my social media efforts in the future. If I run a Headtalker campaign again, I will focus on attracting those whose reach is based on Facebook and not other forms of social media such as Twitter. was valuable and is the other area I will invest time and effort in future campaigns. I have not used any of the ebook promotional sites that send out blasts to readers so I cannot comment on how I would incorporate them into a campaign.

My last takeaway is the need for careful planning. I want to succeed as an author. Succeed financially! Promotional campaigns are just as important as writing a good book and having a great cover, etc, etc. 

I left too many things to chance and had to scramble to finish strong. I plan to write a prequel for my series, the first of which is the book I ran in this campaign, The Predator and The Prey. I will submit the prequel for an Amazon Kindle Scout campaign and compare the data from the second campaign to this one. Hopefully I will produce far superior results.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review of Headtalker as a Promotional Tool

In an earlier post I described in a fair amount of detail how to use the Social Media aggregating site Headtalker as a promotional tool. I had used it to promote my campaign for my novel The Predator and The Prey in its Amazon Kindle Scout campaign.

My campaign on Headtalker had 51 supporters which provided an impressive Social Media reach of 1,087,260 social media accounts whose owners promised to mention my Kindle Scout campaign and provide a link to the novel's campaign page.

Kindle Scout provides analytics for where the nominations come from. Out of my 1,087,260 individuals, my Kindle Scout campaign received seven total nominations. 

Not a good return for the time I spent learning how to use the site and recruiting supporters.

I did learn something valuable from the experience which has not turned me off completely from ever using Headtalker again.

The overwhelming majority of the Social Media accounts my campaign received were Twitter accounts. Puzzled by the poor results, (.0000064 per Social Media account) seven visits out of the million plus reach, made me do a little research about the effectiveness of Social Media for promoting a specific item like a book or a promotional campaign.

What I learned fit the results of my Headtalker campaign. Facebook is the king of Social Media when it comes to selling or promoting an item, i.e. getting people to click on a link to visit something you want them to visit.

The absolute worse form of Social Media for producing the desired marketing behavior? Twitter. Tumbler and Linkedin aren't much better. Needless to say, the bulk of my million plus Social Media accounts for the program were Twitter accounts.

Checking the various Social Media accounts that did produce clicks and nominations, the head of the list was, sure enough, Facebook. The Facebook accounts that generated the traffic included my own Facebook author page, seven Facebook pages from the Headtalker campaign, Facebook groups for authors and those of Friends and Family who shared my link.

I won't rule out using Headtalker again in the future. But if I do, I will focus heavily on recruiting Supporters whose Social Media reach is based on Facebook.