Free Promo Results and Tips- 30K Books Downloaded

I enrolled A Needful Heart in the Select Program a few weeks ago, because it just wasn’t moving anywhere. I had sold less than 10 books at Amazon and a few at Kobo, but no great numbers. I didn’t feel I was losing readers by going with select.
I had heard that doing a free listing on the weekend was a waste of time, so I scheduled my first promo to run Thursday October 4th and Friday October 5th, when I knew people would be on the computer.
BUT, the week before the promo I started sending notification to all the freebie sites I could find. Yes, I did Pixel of Ink and all the other biggies, but I also did a lot of smaller sites. I did probably 30 free pages on Facebook the days of the sale. (The list is below). The other day I came across this WG2E page, and I wish I had it before I started, because it had even more options. I did use some of the Facebook pages to announce it that day.
At 7:11 Thursday morning, I had had 21 downloads. By 1:51pm I had 469 and had hit the contemporary list at number 82. By 8:30 Friday morning I hit #66 on the OVERALL FREE list and #15 on the contemporary list with 2740 downloads. Once you hit the list, it really does start feeding itself. At one point I worked out that I was having about 40 downloads a minute.
Throughout these two days I was tweeting and updating my Facebook page. If you’re on a budget, use Twuffer to schedule your tweets. With twenty minutes of work I had the entire day scheduled and into the night.  Just be sure your tweets are unique; the system kicks out duplicates. If you use Hootesuite, you can upgrade to the $9.99 a month and get the scheduling upgrade.
Throughout the two days, my downloads and ranking continued to climb, as well as my reviews. In two days I garnered 10 brand new mostly 5 star reviews in the US, and 2 in the UK. The kind of reviews that absolutely melt your heart and keep you writing.
     ” I downloaded this book as soon as I saw this free alert earlier…and I made the mistake of opening it at work.
Now I am finished reading it.
ALL OF IT.
And
I have to say…this might be one of the VERY best books I can EVER
remember reading. I found myself in tears many times as I read Matt’s
struggle with feeling worthy of being loved and how he opened up under
Gina’s loving kindness and open heart.
I cannot recommend this story enough. It is just so, SO good that I cannot seem to find the words to really do it justice.” Thank you AngelWTattoos, whoever you are!
To me, the entire promo was worth doing just for those awesome reviews. I love this book, and I knew if I could find an audience, they would love it as well. And they have.
At 6:15 pm Friday, I had had 9730 downloads and was #7 on the overall free list, #3 on contemporary. I realized I had a dilemma. At this point downloads were flying and I was still climbing the charts, but I was scheduled to end at midnight. I hadn’t hit number 1 yet, and my ego wondered if I could. I spoke with a writer friend and she agreed that it would be a good move to keep the book listed free for another day. So, I scheduled it to be free Saturday as well. And I’m glad I did. When I woke up Saturday morning, I was number 1 on the total FREE list AND the contemporary.
Again, when you get that high it continues to feed itself. I did some tweets Saturday, but I was out of the house most of the day and unable to do much more than that. I had only scheduled with the free sites for Thursday and Friday, so they weren’t a help, unless somebody had looked at the old listings and was curious enough to buy the book.
At the end of the originally scheduled promo- Friday night- I had had 16,621 downloads. At the end of the extra day – Saturday night- I had had 25,980 total downloads.
For the first time I did well in other countries too. UK had 4739 total downloads and another 273 split between Germany, Spain, France and Italy. I had sold in UK before, but never in the other countries, so I was glad to at least get my name out a little bit over there.
A lot of people fuss at the free book issue, and I can understand their reasoning, BUT, I reached 30,000 new readers, and a significant number of those went ahead and bought every other book I had. In Author Central, ALL of my books were up in rankings, including those I have with e-pubs.
The select promo is a marketing tool. The IndieRomanceInk loop was talking about this recently as well. For authors with small to no fan bases, the select program can give them a very needed boost. For those with a broad reader-base, not so much, and they run the risk of alienating a significant number of their readers if they do go exclusive with Amazon. Whether to use it or not is definitely a personal choice.
Here’s the list of free sites I listed with. And remember, it’s up to their discretion whether or not to list you on their site. If you have more, please add them to the comments for everybody to see. I also did an event listing with The Romance Studio and listed the sale on Kindleboards.

  • Author Marketing Club is fantastic, because they list all the biggies right in one spot. Including:
  • Pixel of Ink- I listed, but did not get picked up. I did notice that all the people I was competing with on the free list were listed, but not me.
  • Books on the Knob- did not get picked up.
  • Freebooksy- they picked me up on Friday.
  • Bargain Book Hunter- picked me up on Friday.
  • That Book Place- no.
  • Orangeberry- no.
  • Free Kindle Fiction- no on the actual site but they did pick me up on their FB page.
  • Indie Book of the Day- no.
  • Free Book Dude- yes.
  • Awesome Gang- no.
  • Frugal Freebie- no.
  • Kindle Daily Deal- no.
  • Free Kindle Books and Tips- yes, on Friday.
  • Free E-books Daily- no.
  • Ebookshabit- yes, on Thursday.

The Day of I posted at these Facebook pages, some of which are from the WG2E site:

  • Galleycat FB page
  • snickslist
  • cheap bookies
  • free books r us
  • eReader1 US
  • iAuthor
  • Kindle finds
  • IndieKindle
  • Ebook Deal of the Day
  • Share Free eBooks
  • Free Ebooks and Tips
  • Kindle Promo
  • ebooks habit
  • Galleycat
  • Indie book of the Day
  • Free Kindle Fiction
  • Bargain Ebook Hunter
  • Freebooksy
  • Reading Kindle
  • Kindle Korner
  • ereaderlove.com
  • ebooks FreeFreeFree
  • Free Ebook Deal
  • What to read After 50 Shades of Grey

I’m positive there are more sites we just don’t know about. I think, looking back, I would have given the bigger sites more lead time for scheduling. Some request a month. I only gave them a week. Also, most of the bigger sites have guaranteed listings for like $5.00. I may do that next time.
Overall, though, I believe my promo was a success. I ended high enough that now that I’m under the paid listings, enough people are finding me that I’m climbing the charts again. I’m #2101 on the overall paid list and #49 in Domestic Living, which before yesterday I had never heard of.
Do your planning ahead of time and be prepared to spend a lot of time at the computer during your free days.
If you have questions, I’m more that willing to answer them. I have more than 4 pages on notes! Good luck with your promo!

A Happy Rejection…And A New Cover

Two years ago, I never thought I’d be happy getting a rejection. But, two years ago I wasn’t self-published, and able to do all the things a publisher can do for me now.
I submitted a manuscript to Ellora’s cave a couple of months ago because one of the editors had requested something. I was flattered and appreciated that she had approached me, so I polished something up and sent it in. As soon as I hit the send button, though, I regretted the move. I only have one self-pub out right now, The Awakening Society, but I know that publishing myself is going to be a very large part of my career. The manuscript I sent in was one I had worked on for a couple of years, though it had changed many, many times in that time. And though it had changed drastically from how it started, I still loved the characters and believe in the story. There were parts of the story that I thought may not suit the EC line, but I sent it in anyway, and waited.
I heard back a couple weeks later, and it was what I expected. The story was very well written, but because of some of the issues it dealt with, she didn’t think it would suit their readers.
I know it sounds crazy, but I was happy when I read that email. While pubbing with EC would be a wonderful way to diversify my career, I wanted to be the one to put this story out. Honestly, I had already started shopping around for covers, had, in fact, already bought a cover, in the hopes I could release it myself. I’m glad I wasn’t offered a contract, because I’m afraid I would have turned it down.
SO, I am going through and revamping the story again. I had tamed it down a bit to try to fit EC, which I knew was wrong when I did it, but I didn’t listen to my little internal editor. I contacted the cover artist and gave her the go ahead, though there was a bit of a snafu with the title. I thought I knew what I wanted, but it didn’t look right on the book. So, I took a while, and came up with a name that seemed right. A Needful Heart. Here’s the cover and working blurb.

Matt Calvin has watched
and wanted Gina Carruthers for four long years,
and he decides it’s time to do something about this ridiculous fascination he has with
her. He’s not relationship material, but he doesn’t expect it to even get that
far. Hell, between the tattoos and his lovely disposition, a woman would be crazy to take a chance on him. He just wants to talk to the sexy nurse and put himself out of his misery once and
for all. Things never go as planned, though, and when they collide in the
hallway, Matt is unable to save her from being hurt. 
Gina doesn’t blame the
big man for the accident. But she is appreciative when Matt steps into her crazy
life to help her out, first with her broken wrist then when they damage her
house. They just can’t seem to have a normal conversation. Proximity fires the
attraction between them and Gina can’t believe she’s overlooked the sexy
carpenter for this long. She feels guilty for misjudging him, and is stunned by
how quickly he becomes a vital part of her life.
When a situation
develops and they have to save a little boy from abuse, Matt loses control of
his tightly held anger. In spite of how his heart aches, he has to walk away, both for
Gina’s safety and to maintain his own sanity. It’s up to Gina to convince him
love can heal any heartache. 
Viola Estrella designed my cover, and I’m so tickled with it. You can check out her website here. HIGHLY recommend her services.
If things go as planned, A Needful Heart will be out next week.  I’m also working on the second Awakening Society book, and it should be ready by the end of July. 
I thank you for stopping.

Indie Writer Professionalism….

I’m amazed all the time at how little some writers know about the writing business. It’s one thing to miss out on a social networking site or something like that. But when people don’t even know where they are distributing their books, or if they actually need an editor or not, those are significant issues that need addressed.
We live in the age of information. Literally, we have every answer we will ever need at our fingertips. There are pages and pages of instructional information on how to do everything, including write and publish books. There should be no excuse for a writer not to be completely informed of their BUSINESS.
And that’s how you have to look at it. As a business.  If you are actively pursuing publication, actively submitting to publishing houses or individuals, actively promoting your own work, you are running a business. The idea of publishing your books is to reach customers and create revenue. Business.
If you scribble notes here and there, but have never actually completed anything, or submitted to any publishing houses, writing is probably a hobby for you. If you throw a few things together, it sounds good and you create your own cover- with no input from anybody- you are a hobbyist writer who shouldn’t be putting their work out. I don’t want to be harsh, but there are absolutely people who have put books out that shouldn’t have.
If you submit and are accepted to a publishing house, you will be edited until you are sick of it, then you will be edited some more. You will have a professionally designed cover created specifically for your story. Your story will be formatted to correctly fit any e-reader device. It will be ready for the public to read.
Why would you not take the time to make your book look and BE as professional as possible? 
-Be your own critic, and be realistic. Not everything you create is wonderful and beautiful. Honestly, until it goes through several revisions, it’s probably barely readable.
-Join some kind of critique or writing group, and use them. An honest opinion from a person that is not emotionally invested in you is precious. In other words, use somebody other than relatives and friends to criticize your work. Whether they realize it or not, they will never give you the truth because they want to spare your feelings.
-Take the steps necessary to represent yourself and your work to the best of your ability. Hire people to help you with things you are unfamiliar with. Do everything you can to DISPROVE the stigma that all indie writers carry. PROVE that you are a writer of worth, and have pride in your work. Enough pride that you have done everything you can to present a perfect product to the public.
I apologize if I sound a little preachy, but it’s hard to overcome the stigma that all indie writers put out crap, especially when some of those same writers are perpetuating the stereotype.

List of Editors for Hire for Indie Writers

When you self-publish, it is vitally important to present a well-crafted piece of work to the public. Self-pubbing has a negative connotation, thanks to all of the crap that’s filtering onto the net that hasn’t been refined or controlled in any way. If you are proud of the work, you need to take the time to make it the best it can be. Even if you are a good editor, you still need people to go over your work to spot mistakes. Below is a list of editing professionals I’ve compiled over the past couple of years. If you visit my website here, I have compiled a huge list with cover artists, formatters and editors.

My editors at one of my e-pubs, Kate Richards and Valerie Mann, have created an editing service called Wizards in Publishing. I can say honestly that they have made me a much better writer. And I’m so tickled they are offering this service now. They also format and upload if you need help that way.
I also have experience with The Authors Red Room. Literally, for the price I paid, 2 separate editors went over my work, and I was very pleased with the result. They had my ms turned around within just a few days.

Bev Harrison- 
bevharro@bigpond.net.au   1 cent per word with $75.00 minimum fee.
Although she runs specials.
Anne Victory-
Cathy Donaldson 
www.cathydonaldson.net
-edits
Bev Rosenbaum 
www.bevkatzrosenbaum.com  does critiques
Eliza Knight  http://elizaknight.com/      
Wendy Ely-  http://creativemanuscripts.blogspot.com/
also a multi-pubbed author.
Caro Carson www.carocarson.com/
The Midnight Line editor   Has edited for
Catherin Kean, Kresley Cole, Susan Grant
Blair Bancroft- editsbybff@aol.com
New as of 03-25-12
Found these on Women’s Lit Café: http://www.worldliterarycafe.com/forum/24
Huge list of editors.
http://www.kristenweber.com/faq.html
– on the expensive side, but Big 6 experience.
This is not a comprehensive list, of course. These are just names that I’ve run across or heard people using. Be sure to investigate any service provider as thoroughly as you can.
If you have a suggestion, please please leave a comment with your recommendation.

Crouch and Konrath Comedy Duo

JA Konrath (left) and Blake Crouch (right)

Far and away the best demonstration we went to was by Blake Crouch and JA Konrath, self-publishing phenoms. They were the funniest, had the most common sense advice and the most data to back up their claims. Robyn, the lady I drove up with, is not yet published and wants to go the tradition, Big 6 route. But even Robyn admitted it was the best class she went to all week.

 According to Konrath, he knew self-pubbing was going to be the thing to do, and he badgered Crouch for months before Crouch finally decided to put out 1 book. Run made 12k the first month it was out. Konrath asked him how much he’d made this year already. As of 4-12-12 Crouch admitted he had made 150k for the year.

Konrath has also made incredible money in the time he has been self-publishing, and says you need the perfect cover, perfect price, a good description and finally a good book for LUCK to strike. The more books you have out there, the more chance luck will find you. But he says to always put out the best product you can as often as you can. The best promotion you can do, he says, is to put out another fantastic book.

Konrath is a natural comedian, and he had the audience laughing most of the hour they spoke, but his information was like gold. Quiet Blake Crouch was the perfect straight man to counterbalance Konrath’s craziness, but I felt a little bad that he had to put up with him.

If you look closely, the design on Konrath’s shirt is interconnected skulls and crossbones, which I thought was appropriate considering where he was. There was a definite anti-self-pub flavor to the air at RT this year, which was disappointing. I think he dealt with it in his own rebellious way. He carried his own beer to the e-book signing and the book sale later on that week, and in spite of the people that wrinkled their noses at what he did, I thought he and Blake were both FABULOUS.
                       In spite of his audacious behaviour, the man is brilliant. He spoke about apps for smart devices, such as iphones, ipads, androids, tablets. Rather than having an app for an author, why not have an app for each book created? Where readers can go into the app, read author commentary, see videos of the author talking about the creative process, listening to play lists or even interacting with readers in a forum ON THE APP.
He also talked about advertising. He said he could see, in the future, money being paid to the author by advertisers who place their ads in the author’s books, perhaps between chapters. Already we deal with little ads everyday, but we would be more likely to put up with them if the book itself was free. Right? 
One of the people in the audience asked him about piracy, and Konrath laughed. It’s such a miniscule threat to him that he conducted an experiment. He posted one of his books for free on one of the piracy loops, and he watched as sales for the same book soared on the legitimate sites. This led to his greatest quote of the hour:
“If you’re a writer, you should be a whore with no integrity.”
Meaning, use free days, and lend books, and don’t worry about piracy because all it does is get your name to an even wider audience. Don’t use DRM on anything.
Hire a website designer he said, and sell your own books from your own website. Then you get to keep all the profits .
When asked what the best websites were for self-pubbers, he reeled off a list. Kindleboards, his blog A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing , Scott Nicholson, Rusch Report, David Gaugrahan to name a few.
In the bottom picture, he’s showing us ‘Autography’, which is an app that the author can use to sign the cover sheet of a book for a reader. Similar to Kindlegraph, but with Autography, you actually sign the sheet with a stylus in your own handwriting. It was beautiful.                                                                                                                                       

The two of them were fantastic, and kept me laughing all day.
At the original demonstration, they had author Ann Voss Peterson sitting in the front row, and he was talking about how collaborating had worked very well for him, and it helped to have somebody take on half the load. He and Ann have collaborated on 2 books. She stood up for a second then sat back down quickly. Ann seems to be a quiet lady, totally opposite of Konrath, and I went to one of her panels later in the day. Three authors were speaking for 15 minutes each. The first author spoke, then it was Ann’s turn to talk about plot. She pinkened, and it was obvious she was uncomfortable speaking in front of so many people. Then troops in Blake Crouch, Konrath and Konrath’s wife. They sit in the front row and STARE at Ann. I too was in the front row, and I watched as a wave of bright red crept up her neck and into her face. I felt so bad for the poor woman. Then Konrath pulled out his cell phone and started snapping pictures. Now, he’s not sitting any more than about 7 feet from the woman, so the camera is basically in her face. I have to say, though, she held her ground and made it completely through her demonstration without stumbling. As soon as her demonstration was over, the three of them stood up and trooped back out of the room.
I spoke to her at the end and told her she needed to kick his ass when she had a chance.
But it was damn funny.

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