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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Holidays Are On Fire.

Claus: Rise of the Miser

The fifth installment in the Claus Universe is coming to town. 

It started with a letter.
The boy who wrote it wasn’t much different than other little boys, full of hopes and dreams and puppy dog tails. He took a blank piece of paper and a pencil and, with his tongue between his teeth, wrote in very neat cursive.
Dear Santa, it started. All letters to the North Pole start that way, sure. It’s what followed that made all the difference.
Dear Santa, I hope you are warm. I will leave you a blanket when you stop by my house. I do not want anything for Christmas. Can you bring my mother something? And if it is not too much, could you maybe give me a ride on your sleigh? I understand if you can’t.
Seriously, he wrote that. If I could cry, I would.
How many seven-year-olds don’t want anything for Christmas except for their mom to be happy? I’ll tell you, none. That’s how many.
He wrote that letter in looping cursive letters and sealed it in an envelope before taking it to his mom because he didn’t want her to read it. Not that he was embarrassed. He believed letters to Santa were like birthday wishes. If you told someone, they didn’t come true.
Santa Claus, North Pole, he addressed it, because everyone knew where Santa lived. He gave it to his mom and she put a stamp on it. The next day, they took it to the post office. And that was it.
Well, not entirely.
His mom actually opened it before they mailed it. It wasn’t just her curiosity that got the best of her. He wouldn’t tell her what he wanted for Christmas, so you know what she was thinking.
She ended up bawling.
Of course, Santa didn’t wake him up when he stopped by on Christmas. There were no magic sleigh rides, but his mom did seem happier in the morning, so the boy got what he wanted. Minus the sleigh ride.
I wasn’t around when all of this happened. In fact, I wasn’t anywhere. But I have a copy of the letter. I know what he did and what she did, the details of their memories, the way he sealed the envelope, how he tried to stay awake on Christmas Eve, and how his mother cried.
But like any good iceberg, there’s way more to the story beneath the surface. It started with the letter, but it has a lot to do with a mother’s love.
And a very fat man.


Merry, merry!

The fat man sat on the chimney.
His belly full of jelly rested on his legs, with an ache in his back. Claus was getting old.
He knew exactly how old he was but refused to ever say it. When the elven gathered around his birthday cake and asked how many candles were lit, he would say something like enough to light all the Christmas trees in the world or enough to guide my sleigh. Didn’t matter what he said, they laughed and cheered. They loved him.
They loved everything.
Born Nicholas Santa, he was now Santa Claus—a man no longer bound to the laws of human nature. Elven magic flowed through his veins. The story on how that came to be was long and convoluted. There were rumors of his existence and how he got to the North Pole, but no man or woman knew everything. There were shreds of truth in their songs and stories. They knew about the reindeer, but not all of them. They knew about his Christmas Eve trip, but not his practice run. They knew about the presents.
But they really didn’t know everything.
Two hundred was impossible for a human to live, but in elven years it was but a handful of snowflakes in a North Pole blizzard. A two-hundred-year-old elven was hardly a teenager. Despite the longevity, Claus’s back hurt. He should lose some weight, but he lived on the North Pole. The insulation was a necessity. Human limitations still held court in his body.
Perhaps it’s time to end the practice run.
For centuries, he’d taken the sleigh out on the first day of December. It was an abbreviated trip, a quick survey of the world. He would make a few stops, see how societies had changed, who was naughty and nice. Radio personalities always announced his approach on Christmas Eve, whether they saw his sleigh or not. But no one knew about the practice run.
This year was no different.
His body, however, reminded him it was two hundred years older and maybe these practice runs weren’t necessary. He could do the routes with his eyes closed. There were years he’d fallen asleep while crossing mountain ranges. The reindeer knew what to do, probably with their eyes closed, too.
Maybe things ached because he hadn’t been paying attention to his posture, like Mrs. Claus told him every time he climbed into the sleigh.
There was a loud snort.
His sleigh was on a pitched roof, the golden rails buried in the frigid fluff. The house was built into a hilltop. In the summer, the grassy earth would cool the house below. In the winter, it insulated the rooms filled with cookies and candles, steaming cups of cider and hot chocolate. He could smell it through the chimney.
So could the reindeer.
His lead reindeer looked up. Ronin’s jaws worked side to side. His wide rack of antlers—the largest of any reindeer—spanned almost as wide as the roof. His most reliable and faithful reindeer was still missing from holiday lore. All of the other reindeer were accounted for by name and gender, but not the biggest and baddest of them all.
No glowing noses in this bunch.
Claus lifted a gloved hand. He needed another minute to rest his bones. Ronin buried his snout in the feedbag. This was their December fodder, a special blend for long hauls. It would allow them to inflate their helium bladders for the jumps ahead.
Maybe Claus needed a special blend.
The town below was nestled between two white-capped mountains. A blanket of snow rested in the valley. The scene was distorted through the timesnapper distortion field. Christmas lights were smudges of red and green and white. Outside the translucent bubble, time had nearly come to a stop. Snowflakes hung like crystal ornaments.
Inside, time marched to its normal beat.
No one could see him inside the timesnapper. He could circle the world before the second hand ticked on Big Ben. It was peaceful and quiet inside the bubble. Only the reindeer’s grinding molars disturbed the silent night. Occasionally, the harness bells jingled. This was still his favorite time of year.
But it had been so much easier when he first started.
The gifts were simpler back then and joy wasn’t as elusive. Technology complicated things. Humankind had almost caught up with elven technology. They were more of a danger to themselves than anything else. This concern grew larger every year. In the wrong hands, elven technology could change the world.
A chorus of bells rang.
The reindeer were restless. Time might be relative inside the timesnapper, but it was not endless. Santa stood up and stretched. He loosened the black belt around his waist. He’d already given up two notches since last Christmas. He would have to pace himself before Christmas arrived.
The night of cookies and milk.
The winter did not affect him like men in the normal world, but he could still feel the cold. At that moment, though, he wasn’t feeling the nip of winter at all. In fact, it was beginning to feel a bit warm.
He wasn’t immune to illness. The year of 1970 was the Christmas that would never end. He had the flu. Despite the protests from Mrs. Claus, he mounted the sleigh at midnight. The world was counting on him. He took several naps inside the timesnapper, shivering with fever. He was beginning to feel hot.
This didn’t feel like a fever, though.
Water was trickling. Snow was melting from the roof and dripping from the shingles.
The timesnapper has malfunctioned, he thought.
Before he could turn, a great and wonderful sleepiness fell over him. Perhaps the flu was back. He reached for the chimney; then he felt the pitched roof on his back. He tingled all over.
Then closed his eyes.

The last thing he heard was the jingling of the reindeer’s harness bells in the distance.

Get more of the Miser!

Available at all major vendors


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Expectations: A True Adoption Story

I write fiction. I make up stories.
This is not one of them.

This story is true.

Some minor details have been altered and names changed, but the story itself is true. At some point, you won’t believe it. Hell, I don’t believe some of it and I was there. It’s a story about crises. It’s about resolution, about life prevailing.

It’s about adoption.

This is not a step-by-step guide on how to turn lemons into lemonade. I’m not an expert in crisis management or adoption. There was plenty of the luck to make all of this happen. This is just one story.

It happens to be true.

All profits are donated to Through Emma’s Eyes, a nonprofit organization that helps adoptive parents with special-needs children.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Dominion has Risen

It's been almost 10 months since I've released a novel.

That ends today.

    Grey isn't sleeping.
    Sunny Grimm finds a strap around her son's head with an embossed symbol between his eyes. This is the mark of awareness leaping, where players launch into alternate realities and anything goes. Investors make millions. Critics, however, refuse to call it a game. They argue that reality confusion will end humanity. Labels aside, there are many who play. 
    And many who lose.
    Sunny Grimm goes on a mad search for her son and the people responsible for allowing him to play. The only way she will find him is to not lose herself in the search.
    The Maze is more than a game.

I've been sitting on The Waking of Grey Grimm since May. I had originally intended on releasing it then, but an opportunity arose. Many indie authors are putting together massive boxed sets to combine their authoring networks into one big marketing superpower. These big boys are usually sold for $0.99.

Dominion Rising is one of them.

i joined 20+ authors in this boxed set effort. If you're on my newsletter, you no doubt know about it. You can download The Waking of Grey Grimm as part of the Dominion Rising boxed set.

22 brand new, never released novels
Scifi and Fantasy

(Limited time)

Dominion Rising draws from a very talented indie pool of writers. This is an inexpensive way of meeting some fresh new voices in the scifi/fantasy realm of fiction.

If you're a fan of mine, The Waking of Grey Grimm is the first book in the Maze series. If you'd like a free taste of the Maze, there's a novella available to download. You can get it here.

Ten players.

Memories wiped, their bodies each dropped into a tank. Their consciousness thrown into the Maze—a virtual reality where anyone is anything and anywhere. Battles are fought, riddles are solved. To win a lifetime of riches one has to escape the Maze. First, they have to remember who they are.

Some never do.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Very Empty House

For the first time in 22 years, there are no dogs in our house.

I turned 50 this past week. Thirty didn't bother me. Neither did forty. Fifty is strange. It sounds old. I don't feel old. In fact, I still feel like a 14 year old without the exuberance or energy or naivete or any of the other blissful ignorance that comes with youth. I just held onto the doubt of a 14 year old, that's all.

In that same week, we said goodbye to Kia. She was a boxer. She was 14 years old.

14 x 7 = a lot of dog years

We got our first dog when our son was born. Her name was Samu. She was a collie. That was 22 years ago. We were living in Illinois at the time so the cold weather suited her. Then we moved to South Carolina where the summers are longer and thicker and most definitely hotter. And she was wearing a shag coat.

Samu died in 2010. She wasn't a lovable dog and not bright. She always found the one spot in the house where you were walking and stood there. She had seizures and that was what did it. It was late one night when she had one and never seemed to come out of it. It was after midnight when I drove her to an animal hospital and the first time I was about to put an animal to sleep.

The vet explained the procedure and what to expect. Would you like some time afterwards? she asked. No, thank you, I said. Because I wasn't really attached to Samu and she was ready to go. The choice was an easy one.

So the vet prepped the needle and made the injection. Samu's chest expanded rapidly a few times. And then it dropped one last time and remained still.

I might need a few minutes, I managed to say.

In those closing moments, I flashed back to when she was a puppy and running in the backyard. Our son wasn't even walking then. He wasn't even crawling. I saw her playing in the snow and chasing me at work and following us on walks. All those memories were front and center as her still body lay in front of me. That was when our family started.

I sobbed. Pretty hard.

The next day, we buried her in the yard. We each said something about her and I sobbed again, not as hard, but pretty hard.

Six months ago, we lost Kooper. He was a boxer. Of the three dogs we've had, he was the third. He was 10 years old. He had seizures, too, but the last year of his life he gradually lost control of his back legs. It was a genetic disorder, the best we could guess. Over that period of time, we watched the strength drain from his back half. Slowly, he stopped running. Our walks got shorter. We bought him a chariot to support his emaciated legs but that only helped for a short time.

When his time came, it was very clear. He stopped eating and could barely raise his head. We adored Kooper. He was lovable. Always by our sides, always listening, always playful.

I sobbed, again. Pretty hard.

Kooper and Kia
So Kia was the last of our pack. We called her the old lady. She had the expression of a sad clown and the posture of a depressed donkey. Kooper loved her. He always wanted to know where she was. He was also dominated her, so that might explain why she wasn't keen on him. When Kooper died, she didn't seem to be upset. In fact, she finally had some peace in the house. There wasn't another dog shoving past her in the doorway or taking her food.

Kia just wanted to be left alone.

Even when she was younger, she didn't interact with the other dogs. She was off by herself sniffing the ground and generally avoiding the packs Kooper was running with. Now she had lost most of her hearing and some of her eyesight. She wanted to be in the same room with us, just not really interested in being loved on. She just wanted to see us, lay near us, that was it. She was a loner. This was her time to enjoy. We weren't going to get another dog until she passed.

It wasn't long after Kooper died that she developed a tumor. A few years ago, we had a tumor removed from her leg. This time it was on the side of her face. We elected not to put her through surgery. She was 14 years old. Boxers typically live 10 years. The tumor didn't appear to be causing discomfort. She didn't react when we touched it, she ate her food, went on walks and slept most of the day. It was a dog's life.

Unlike Samu and Kooper, Kia never reached that clear point of no return. She was still eating and pooping and walking, but the tumor had grown extensively. And despite eating four cups of food a day, she continued to lose weight. The vet assured us it was time.

Nothing moves her when the blanket is wrapped.
We had contacted a hospice vet. She came over to the house last Saturday. Kia was on her throne wrapped in a blanket. Nothing in the world could tempt her when she was wrapped up. The vet administered a sedative that made her sleepier than usual. After several minutes, she gave her the second shot. Slowly, her breathing became shallow. And then it stopped.

Once again, pretty hard.

We buried her in the backyard with more tears. It was more that just losing a pet at this point. It was the tangible passage of time. Her death marked the transition of our lives. Our kids are grown. I'm 50. And our house is empty. No more puppy teeth or accidents in the bedroom or chewed up lawn furniture or barking in the middle of the night. No more kids with ear infections or homework or summer camps or dog breath during late night cuddle sessions or wagging butts when we get home. It's all different now.

Why didn't I see this coming?

We'll let this passing settle into place, find our footing for this next phase in life. And soon we'll get another dog and start over. This time we don't need a puppy to grow up with the kids. We'll find a dog in the Boxer Rescue program that needs home. Until then, we'll wake up to quiet mornings.

In a very empty house.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Things I learned as an indie.

It's all about marketing.

Well, it's a bit more than that. There's product. You have to have a novel that someone wants to read. But having that novel doesn't mean anything if no one sees it. There are a thousand ways to make that happen. I've tried quite a few. Firstly, I'm lucky that I arrived on the scene when the indie movement was just a ripple. It's grown tidal since then and I've learned from the best along the way.

Some indies are killing it, quitting day jobs, cashing six figures, sailing around the world. I've managed to carve a small slice of success, enough to pay some bills and have some fun on weekends. I'm not likely to quit my day job, so this hobby of spelunking my imagination has been a blast.

I'm a teacher first, writer second. Teaching keeps me mentally and emotionally fit. I'm mostly introverted. If you saw me at a party, you'd disagree, but I've learned to be social. When I have free time, I almost always choose to something solitary. But social interaction is essential, so employment fills that niche and teaching does so nicely. If I wrote full time, I'd never get dressed. Not good for the long term.

So the indie life suites me spot on. If you're an indie and want to compare notes, here's where I'm at.

I mean that as a reader. What do writers do that attracts me as a reader? First, it's the material. Fiction is fickle. Everyone has a genre that grabs them, or a voice, or style. Whatever it is, don't take it personally if someone doesn't like your stuff. Rowling has a theme park and not every digs the muggle trope.

So I ask myself that question a lot. What would work for me as a reader? I take that approach as a teacher, what would work for me as a student? I teach from that perspective. That doesn't mean everyone should teach like me. I don't hit the target 100% of the time. Nobody does. Same goes for writing. I get emails from readers that become hardcore fans, but there are plenty that don't get me or my writing. That's the game, those are the rules.

I tried writing romance once because I wanted to take advantage of the marketing opportunities. Romance readers are voracious and indie romance writers crushing it. I made it halfway through a romance novel. That's 40,000 words. All I could think about was writing my next scifi story. I dropped the romance story that moment and never saw it again.

I don't read romance, and I sure as hell can't write it. I've got to love what I'm writing and love reading what I'm writing. And hope others come along.

It starts there.

I'm on all platforms. Amazon, Nook, Apple, Kobo, and Google. Occasionally, I play with Kindle Select, meaning I'm only on Kindle, but I'm finding it's more lucrative to be wide. Amazon is the king, wrangling 70% to 80% of sales. Apple and Nook closely tie for second and third. Kobo (the main vendor for Canadian sales) is fourth. Dead and decisively last is Google Play.

I publish directly with Amazon, Google and Kobo, but use D2D to publish to Apple and Nook. I give up some money to use D2D but it's worth it. Apple and Nook platforms were a pain to use. I might go back to publishing directly with Nook to recoup the D2D fees, but not for now.

Get in line.

Every author wants a Bookbub. That's why it's so hard to book an advert with them. It's only getting harder. I booked six in 2016. That's pretty good. I attribute two things to my success. They were all boxed sets, so the discount was deeper ($6.99 down to $0.99). They are wide, not Kindle Select. I noticed a trend that significantly more books selected were wide, one of the reasons I continue to stay wide.

Bookbub is essential to getting sales in UK, CA, Australia and India. Also, should you book one, you have to manually change your prices in CA, AU and IN to make sure they match the Bookbub deal. For whatever reason, Amazon does not automatically make the right adjustments.

There are countless Bookbub knockoffs. Some are straight up scams. I've whittled my list down to a short set of promo sites that I only use as a lead up to a Bookbub promo, which primes sales for a bigger spike. I'll also use them when releasing a new book.

Free Kindle Books and Tips
Ereader News Today
Bargain Booksy
Book Barbarian
Book Basset 

However you can do it, write stories that funnel readers. Most of my books are part of a trilogy. Getting a reader hooked on the first book leads them to the rest. I even cross-promote between trilogies, writing elements in each one to pique interest. And then there's the Bookbub advantage. BB loves a boxed set.

It's a tad controversial. Not every author likes the idea of giving away their work. I'm a fan, though. As a reader, I've found many writers by downloading a freebie and buying their subsequent novels. In particular, I like free novellas. They're bite-sized stories that give me taste.

I have 4 free novellas, each leading into a trilogy. I've had readers tell me they bought my books because of the freebie and they never buy books. It's a loss leader, and it works.

I've been involved in several multi-author boxed sets, even coordinated one. Leading a boxed set takes a tremendous amount of effort. Most authors are happy to contribute their writing, but it can be a bit like herding squirrels.

I've been lucky to be involved with some big names. That proximity has led to discovery. One such luck shot was having Hugh Howey on board, the poster child for indie success. Most boxed sets are temporary, running for a several months.

Currently, I joined a boxed set through Rebecca Hamilton's marketing service. Twenty-two book boxed set with some potent indie writers. The buy-in was $500 per author in an effort to land on the NY Times list. I'm not as interested in the NYT title as much as I am the exposure. Dominion Rising will launch in August.

I found the Writer's Cafe to be extremely helpful. I used to read it daily. Now I'll pop in every once in a great while. Authors from various indie strata contribute advice or breaking news. I've discovered boxed set opportunities there as well as numerous marketing ideas.

Rebecca Hamilton, an indie author, has a author marketing service called Genrecrave that's worked well. I've gained quite a few subscribers there, but I think it's most effective for fantasy and romance writers.

I've shelled out some cash to jump in on a few online seminars. I got in on Mark Dawson's Facebook Advertising for Authors workshop called Self Publishing Formula. $500 at the time. While advertising on FB hasn't worked out for me (it seems to work for authors in thrillers and romance), I learned quite a bit from the videos. 

Later, I joined Nick Stephenson's Your First 10K Readers online workshop. That was pricey, too. Some of it was covered in Dawson's, but I still learned a lot.

Both workshops provided invaluable knowledge and lifetime memberships. Each time they come out with new videos, I'm automatically enrolled. If you had to do just one of them, I'd recommend Nick's since FB advertising isn't part of my plan anymore.

There are several viable opportunities. The authors that seem to be doing the best are those with a grasp on marketing (duh). By that, I mean they know you have to invest money to be visible. Quite a few are spending over $3000 a month on FB ads or Amazon's new marketing service (which I just starting dabbling in). It's the "it takes money to make money" adage.

I'm still too gun shy to jump into that well with both feet. I'm spending more on advertising, but not as much as I should. 

Dawson's workshop taught me the intrinsic value of a mailing list. Nowadays, a lot of services are focusing on acquiring subscribers. And for good reason. It's a captive audience that you can directly communicate with. I recently launched Humbug: The Unwinding of Ebenezer Scrooge. The first week, I sold nearly 1000 copies and racked up 80 Amazon reviews averaging 4.8 stars. 

That's hot.

Both workshops taught me how to attract and manage a mailing list, starting with a reader magnet. Readers that sign up will receive four novellas for free. My offer is at the end of all my books, it's on the website, everywhere I can put it. They are free samples that give a reader a taste. If they like, they buy other books in the series.

Recently, instaFreebie has been a huge avenue to gain subscribers. Readers have to subscribe to my mailing list to download a free book. Numerous promotional opportunities, most being free, can gather several hundred subscribers in a few days. They seem to be good subscribers, too. Although some argue they're still after free books and not worth the subscription.

I use Mailchimp to manage a mailing list. It's not the cheapest, but I know how to use it and like the functions. I currently have 9000 subscribers. That costs me $75 a month. Their automated feature is worth the price. When subscribers sign up, they received a pre-determined series of emails that trickle feed to the user, starting with a welcome and a thank you and here's your first free novella. It's completely hands free, I don't have to do anything for them to receive these emails. 

I give a lot of free stuff to my subscribers. It has to be of value to them. For instance, I frequently give away Amazon gift cards at Christmas. All they have to do is click on a link I set up that takes them to one of my Amazon books. It has my affiliate link attached, so any shopping they do kicks back money to me. In December, it's a lot. But I use that money to pay for the gift card. In essence, I'm giving them the money. It's a thank you and keeps them engaged and they buy books.

Reviews are hard to come by. Once upon a time, Goodreads was a good source to find reviewers. Too many fish in the pond now. While I have a presence on Goodreads, I rarely interact anymore. The vast majority of readers don't review.

I use the mailing list to garner reviews. I use Nick Stephenson's approach to running a contest to offer 10 free paperbacks to anyone that reviews the book. This falls within Amazon's parameters of fair play. Technically, subscribers don't have to review to enter, but most are happy to do so. I also encourage them to leave whatever review they want, good, bad or ugly. This is America.

The end result is healthy clump of positive reviews. I usually see a 100+ added to Amazon within a week.

A similar approach worked for the Humbug: The Unwinding of Ebenezer Scrooge release. I recruited advanced readers from my mailing list. Six hundred copies were downloaded. There are 94 Amazon reviews in the first month, 4.8 star average. So it worked.

I think blog tours have fallen out of favor for many authors. I've done a few. There are great blog organizers that get them lined up. They do all the legwork for fee. I'm sure there was some benefit from appearing on several blogs, perhaps gaining some readers, but nothing that was obvious or that I could determine.

Plus, it's a bit of work. Most blogs want to do a contest or interview, so I've spent some hours filling out questionnaires. While I'll occasionally contribute to a blog, I don't do the blog tours (multiple blogs in a short period).

I love audiobooks.

Most of my "reading" gets done in the truck on my commute, a great way to use dead time. I download them from Audible and post all of my books through the same service. The problem with audiobooks can be the influence of the narrator. A good one can make it better, a bad one can sink the story. While I've had some good ones, none of them have ever captured the characters that are in my head.

A few years ago, I started reading my own audiobooks. I make more money narrating my stories, but more importantly I enjoy it. Only I can capture the tone that's in my head. Also, it's a great way to proofread, catching those last few typos before launch.

I hunker down in my closet with a snowball microphone ($80) and laptop with free audio software and read on. A novel will take me a couple of weeks. Many reviews are not kind about my narrating skills, and I get it. I'm not a professional that does different voices. But I capture the tone, the emotion and I love it. That's important.

I take advantage of almost every opportunity. When the Self-E library came along, a digital venue that features indie titles, I threw my books into the mix. Two of them were accepted and, as a result, I've gotten a few speaking engagements.

These events were small and may lead to bigger things. More importantly, they're fun. It's another facet to the experience of writing, that is sharing it with readers in person. Since I teach for a living, talking to group is what I like to do.

I learned in the last event that my books were the most downloaded. A nice little feather. More importantly, they could get some press in the Library Journal, which could lead to more exposure. So I've got that going for me.

Some indies contract translators to get their books in foreign markets. Babelcube came along where you can split the profits with a translator. I'm experimenting with this. So far it's cool to have my books on Amazon in Spanish and Italian and Portuguese, and may give it the appearance of legitimacy. Marketing these, however, has proven impossible. I've made almost no money. Not sure how much longer I'll do this.

Not all ebook readers--Kindle, Nook, otherwise--are tech savvy. It's likely most aren't. Once they set up their ereader, it's relatively easy to purchase books from Amazon or Kobo and start reading. But sideloading a freebie takes a tad more complicated. One additional step can throw the masses into meltdown. So emailing someone an ebook or sending them to a link for downloading can be difficult.

Services such as Book Funnel take out the aggravation. An author account is very affordable. You can set up your books for readers to download and it tells them exactly how to do it. A lot of older generation readers, the bulk of book buyers, don't have a handle on side loading books. I use this for all my free novellas and occasional promos. Since I started using, almost no questions from readers.

InstaFreebie is another such service, also relatively inexpensive with the added benefit of attracting readers to my mailing list. I would cancel my Bookfunnel account if I wasn't already committed to it. InstaFreebie is more than a download service, it attracts readers looking for free downloads. And they do a great job at it. Readers have to sign up for your mailing list to download your book. I've gained 2,500 subscribers in two months. Ridiculous.

I don't get much out of Facebook. Some authors are very good at it. They're quick, they're witty. They engage with their fans. There's a skill there, I believe. I don't really have it. Or the energy.

Visibility has changed, as well. If you have 2000 readers that like your author page, 2000 readers will not see your post. Usually 200 will be shown your post, depending what's in the post. You want the other 1800 to see it? Pay up.

Many authors still do Facebook parties but I'm don't see much activity from them. Unless you're actively promoting, it's not much of a promotional tool. As I've said, many authors are having great success with paid promotions. You can spend a lot of money in hurry, so you'll have to be committed and have some knowledge. Most seem to be in a romance genre, but there are other genres having success. I'm not one of them. I also haven't committed to this approach, either. 

I still don't get twitter. But like Facebook, I'm on it. I use SocialOomph to automate my tweets. I read Advanced Twitter Strategies to learn the automation approach. Very helpful book. It makes tweeting effortless.  I have very few sales that can directly attribute to it. I still keep a presence, though. The problem is me. I'm only use it to advertise, so it's not going to be nearly as useful. Authors that use it first to be social and second to market seem to get the most out of that account. I just can't get myself to care enough to the first part.