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Monday, January 19, 2015

An Indie Author's Best Friend

The advantages of self-publishing are numerous. But there's a disadvantage, among many. And it's a big one.


Without the full support of a traditional publisher's marketing machine, it's hard to get books into readers' hands. (Emphasis on full support. Many traditionally-published authors don't get that.)

There's a long list of websites willing to promote a book, most of which will have minimal impact. And even if you sell or give away books for free, only a fraction of buyers will actually read it. (I don't have statistical data, but I suspect that number is low.)

If you're new to self-publishing, where to turn? The Writer's Cafe on KBoards is a good forum to check daily. Authors share ideas, strategies and results all day long. When it comes to promotional options for the indie, most would agree there's one big boy on the block.


The proof is in the numbers.

The Promotion
1/16/2015: Genre Pulse
1/17/2015: Kindle Books and Tips (KBT)
1/18/2015: BookBub and Ereader News Today (ENT)

The Genre Pulse and KBT promos are set before BookBub to prime sales numbers, raising the sales rank and my author rank ahead of the anticipated sales spike. ENT, unfortunately, couldn't be scheduled ahead of time.

Raising book's Amazon rank creates more visibility, which increases chances of organic discovery. There are also numerous promo sites that watch the hot lists and shakers and movers list that will automatically promote. Thus, discovery feeds more discovery.


Return on investment (ROI)
With a $0.99 price, I make (about) $0.35 from Amazon. To break even on my investment, the number of books I would have to sell are:

The Results
1/16/2015 Genre Pulse

  • 5 sales (80 sales short of breaking even)
  • book rank #23,596
  • author rank (sci-fi) #266 

1/17/2015 KBT 

  • 93 sales (192 sales short of breaking even)
  • book rank #3,523
  • author rank (sci-fi) #260

1/18/2015 BookBub and ENT

  • 3686 sales (2686 sales over investment)
  • book rank #37
  • author rank (sci-fi) #2


  • BookBub is the winner. (While the data does not separate BookBub and ENT, previous experience with ENT usually nets <100 sales.)
  • BookBub is the only promo that earned back the investment
  • BookBub sales reached break even point (1000) by 2:00 PM
  • BookBub sales include non-US markets as well as NookKoboiBooksGoogle Play, and Smashwords 
    • Amazon, 2514
    • Nook, 565
    • iBooks, 398
    • Google Play, 109
    • Kobo, 85
    • Smashwords, 5
This is just data for the day of promotion. The residual effect, or the BookBub tail, will continue for weeks, even months. Past experience has seen downloads following the promotion (at full price) increase 10x during the first couple of weeks, not to mention the increased sales of all the other books I've published, thus increasing organic sales.

In Retrospect
I'll ditch Genre Pulse and try something else, such as Bargain Booksy. I'll probably try KBT again. Even though I lost money, the numbers helped with priming. ENT is a keeper. The numbers (in the past) haven't been huge, but the low cost of investment are well-worth the effort.

For most indie authors, the challenge isn't parting with the BookBub fee, it's booking a promotion. BookBub isn't a secret, and everyone wants a taste of the magic.

I, for one, can't get enough.
(My whorish plea to BookBub to keep booking me.)

Get 3 full-length novels and 1 novella.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Give It Up

I have the luxury of not having to write full-time.

I have a day job. Writing is for the weekends, something I look forward to doing. If I did it full-time, would I still champ at the bit? Would the stories still rattle in my head until my itchy fingers found a keyboard? Maybe. For now, it's part-time.

And I love it.

Amazon and ebooks have afforded indies like me this opportunity. But that's not what this post is about. This is about having the luxury of having a hobby that doesn't cost a red cent. In fact, it makes money. With kids heading to college, it's helped pay the bills. But it's also giving me another opportunity.

To give it up.

I recently committed 10% of the profits from the Claus series to a variety of causes. Using Charity Navigator, I selected charities that had strong ratings that were worthwhile and relevant to some topic in the story.

WINGS for kids is an education program that teaches kids how to behave well, make good decisions and build healthy relationships. They do this by weaving a comprehensive social and emotional learning curriculum into a fresh and fun after school program. Kids get the life lessons they need to succeed and to be happy, and they get a safe place to call home after school. 

10% of the profits from Claus: Legend of the Fat Man will be annually donated to WINGS for Kids.

Jack wakes up in a homeless shelter. For a good portion of the story, he deals with mental illness, estrangement, and homelessness. Lowcountry Food Bank collects, inspects, maintains, and distributes otherwise wasted food products to redistribute to a grassroots network throughout 10 coastal counties of South Carolina. 

10% of the profits from Jack: The Tale of Frost will be annually donated to Lowcountry Food Bank.

Oliver Toye has type 1 juvenile diabetes, or "the shot kind" as Molly calls it. After researching what someone with type 1 diabetes goes through on a daily basis, it was a no-brainer to find a charity. Once known as Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the organization rebranded itself as JDRF to include all people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Or the shot kind.

10% of the profits from Flury: Journey of a Snowman will be annually donated to JDRF.

The 10-novel Young Adult Dystopian Boxed Set ended its run in 2014, making a profit of $1,172.78. The contributing authors unanimously agreed to donate the sum total to a charity. Year Up's mission provides urban young adults with skills, experience, and support to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. Given this was a dystopian boxed set that saw hope in a bleak future, it seems only fitting to help those with limited opportunities.

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