Posts Tagged ‘Self-publishing’

Well, that was a bit of a flop *laughs*

Experiment #1 in my foray into self-publishing promo results: 0 newsletter signups and 1 confirmed sale

Well, actually, there’s been two paid unit sales since I started this, um, 6 days ago, but since the second unit was sold after I stopped tweeting about the giveaway, I’m not really counting it. Just to be safe.

So, my thoughts on why it was such a flop.

Keeping in mind my variables: 0 people on my newsletter when I started out. 70 followers on my twitter account, a substantial portion of which are other authors. First book. No regular commentators on my blog. Hrm, probably not even any regular readers at the moment.

*laughs* Sounds pretty dismal when laid out like that, doesn’t it?

Anyway, moving on to what I should have done differently in this experiment:

As Laura pointed out, it would have been better if I had set the “free” days to coincide with the beginning of the giveaway. Hook people in with the pretty cover, grab them with the blurb and then try to move some units. None of which I did, by the way, because I can be an awkward bunny. However, I do have useful information right now, which is apparently my sphere of contact doesn’t really go in for KU at this moment. There were zero KU units moved, which is something I had not expected. I was expecting, y’know, maybe one, or two, nothing earth-shattering, but not zero.

Laura‘s awesome, by the way. Wonderful person in addition to being a fantastic writer.

The way to enter the giveaway was by signing up for the newsletter and then emailing me to tell me what book/author they were interested in. Yeah, I know, I made it way too complicated. This would be where over-thinking things does no one credit. Since I’m giving away books by well-known authors with an established fan base, I didn’t want to limit the selection in case I ended up gifting someone a book they already owned or had already read. Yeah, yeah, I was trying too hard in too many directions — I was hoping to introduce new readers to authors I liked too. End result? Nada. *laughs*

Really, the blurred language was also to blame, I think. Also, the too-long post. Also just vagueness in general. I’m not sure people understood what I wanted and what to expect in terms of being chosen for the giveaways.

So next time keep it super simple. Got it.

Then I think I ran into a problem where I just wasn’t comfortable with pushing myself out there. I tried tweeting about the giveaway for the first four days, but after that I just felt uncomfortable about it. Especially since no one seemed to be really excited. AND I was running up into the wall of being uncertain about Twitter etiquette and how best to write tweets that catch interest and make people want to retweet.

Well, again, the lack of enthusiasm might have been because, again, messy language and vague expectations but I think also because I have so few twitter followers and so many of my friends are writers.

So, I wasn’t intending on trying to sell to my fellow writers, but I was hoping to snag the interest of their readers. With the speed at which tweets get thrown around and the ratio of writers to readers and general luck, I’m not sure how much attention I actually caught. How much attention I caught and then lost is another variable that I cannot know without intensive drilling down of statistics that I do not have the setup for at the moment. So my pool was already small to begin with and then it got limited way more by circumstances… not good.

I’m a numbers addict so I might do the whole shebang at some point. Y’know, hosting my own short URLs and then apply analytics to see clicks and then resulting signup/sales. I shouldn’t because I should really be writing, but… delicious numbers.

Okay. So the experiment is still on-going. I’ll probably do another burst of tweets and stuff when the book goes free on the 18th and see how that goes.

For now, however, I’m going to go back to work.

Phoenix Chosen now available on KU

Yeah, yeah, I know I said yesterday that I’d put Phoenix Chosen on KU when book two was ready for actual book-gestation, but I’ve figured out a way to get around the whole sweepstakes etc whatever thing: KU will allow me to set my book for free, allowing anyone who’s interested to grab it.

The Chinese have a tradition of celebrating when a baby reaches its first month anniversary. So, in acknowledgement of that and because I’m finally over the squee-nauseous-squee and have regained half of my brain, I’m going to have a book-baby celebration.

As with the traditional celebrations, there will be a bit of lead up until the main event, so I’ll be giving away books from my favorite author list from now until the 18th, when the book goes free on KU for the weekend.

Entering is easy — just sign up for my newsletter and send me an email at ekaterinexia at gmail telling me what book you would like by which author, if any, or if you don’t know the authors, tell me your favorite genre and trope and I’ll pick something for you.

I’ll pick a random entrant from the first 10 sign-ups I get every day until the 18th. On the 18th, I’ll gift any book from Cindy Pon and Jeannie Lin to one lucky person. Yep, that’s two books, three if you count the fact that Phoenix Chosen is free on that day as well. Edited to add: The lovely Jeannie Lin suggested The Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas and since it’s a historical set in England involving wuxia elements, how could I resist? My Beautiful Enemy is the companion book and the one I read and loved, so I think I’m tossing that in as well.

So! Enter for the chance to win five books, all with different angles and takes. C’mon, how can you resist?

The giveaways will be ebooks sent via gifting from Amazon, Nook, or Smashwords. Let me know if you care either way as well. Note that this restriction might throw some wrenches into the works, but we’ll sort it out. :)

Some of my favorite authors:

Ilona Andrews – any book, including Burn for Me (I’ll gift it the day it comes out). I love her strong, kick-ass heroines and their sense of humor.

Anne Bishop – love her Dark Jewel’s series and the Other books

Carolyn Jewel – historical and paranormal romance

Laura Florand – deliciously bittersweet contemporaries

Charlene Teglia — steamy hot romance with a wicked sense of humor

Sasha Devlin – all the heart with plenty of sizzle. (She’s part of a new bundle that’s coming out!)

Dee Carney – a little bit exotic, a whole lot erotic

Hailey Edwards – fantasy romance that isn’t quite like any other

Courtney Milan – clever, poignant and lovely historical romance

Nalini Singh – her angels are to die for.

I’m sure I’m forgetting someone and some books, but there’ll be other opportunities. :)

What are you waiting for? Email me!



Parsing Kindle Unlimited as a reader and writer

I’ve had Kindle Unlimited (KU) for the last two(?) months and I’ve come to some conclusions for KU as it stands right now. Of course, all hypotheses are just that, so we’ll see if my suspicions play out the way I think they will.

As a reader, KU is useful for me because I can blow through multiple books a day. At $9.99 per month, it is very much worth it for me because suddenly I am limited to the KU selection for my reading and so in the end I end up saving money. Asides from my auto-buy authors, I no longer look at book blurbs of books that are not available for KU. It doesn’t matter if it’s 99 cents or 1.99 — I’m no longer tempted, which is great for my wallet.

The way I use KU as a reader has also swayed my opinion of using KU as an author:

  • There are some books that I’m happy to read with KU but which I would probably never pay for with cash, even if it is part of a series. These are the cotton-candy reads that I will read once without it leaving much of an impression on me and that I will likely never re-visit again.
  • KU is really useful for trying out new authors. An additional benefit is that it disappears from my Kindle when I return it, saving me from having to go into my account and delete it. Yes, I delete books sometimes because when you have 4k+ books on your account, it can get hard to browse through your own library.
  • I re-read and when I have money, I am more likely to pay money for a book that I’m certain that I liked rather than spending my money on bets.
  • I think I actually save time now because I’m much more likely to not finish a book. Since I’m just borrowing it, I don’t feel compelled to read it to the end. Yeah, it’s odd, that mindset of killing time to ensure that I feel that I’ve gotten my money’s worth of distraction.

So, my thoughts on KU as an author:

I have no illusions to the fact that there will be those who consider my books cotton-candy. As such, I’d rather have my books be available for them to borrow and read rather than not. If originally 4 out of 10 people will buy my book, it would not necessarily be worth it in the long term for those 4 to buy the book for $4.99 rather than having 8 people borrow, read it, and then possibly recommend it to their friends. It is both advertising and expanding my demographics.

The fact that a reader has to either read the book or turn it in for another one means that, unlike a book they bought for free, there is additional incentive to at least read the book and try it instead of letting it languish on their Kindles forever. This is good for me as a new author.

The 90 days of exclusivity aren’t really a big deal unless you’re a big-name-author who might move a couple thousand books in the first week of release across multiple platforms. I could be wrong about this, but since I have 0 sales on Google Play and 2 sales on Smashwords to date, I’m going to go with the anec-data for my following books. Also, unfortunately for us number crunchers, it’s impossible to know for sure how much money you’re leaving on the table from those 90 days of exclusivity versus the amount of money you’ve made through KU borrowing.

I won’t lie — an author will lose some sales from those who would have been tipped over into buying versus not and they will only get whatever the borrowing rate is. However, for my part, I’m not going to worry about it because in my opinion as a reader, there’s always the die-hard fans who will buy it regardless and those who will borrow it from the library or a friend. You can’t get it all.

Some of my friends have asked why Phoenix Chosen is priced the way it is and why I haven’t enrolled it in KDP select. 

My reasoning is that I don’t want to undervalue my work and I don’t believe in contributing to the notion that a book is worth less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. I also don’t want Phoenix Chosen to be one of those books that people snap up because it’s cheap and then end up never reading. There’s also the theory that readers are more likely to rate a book badly when it’s priced at 99 cents or so.

For another reason, since Phoenix Awoken isn’t ready yet, I don’t feel like a burning need to make the first book free or cheap to hook in more readers. I’m happy to have it sit where it is  and see how it does while I write and edit book two.

However, when Phoenix Awoken is ready, I’m going to enroll the first book in KDP Select and then have the first book free for the first five days of Phoenix Awoken‘s release. When the third book is ready, I’ll likely do a promotion where the first book is on KDP Select again for three months and then the second book will be on KDP Select for the three months after that.

And now, that said, I really should be working on book two so I actually have something to test these theories on. :)


Giveaways are more complicated than I thought

So. You’re a self-published author and you’re thinking about doing this promo thing called a giveaway and you think it’s easy and shiny and … it’s not. It’s really not. Not if you’re thinking about doing an international giveaway.

If you’re thinking about restricting your giveaway to the US, then you’re in good shape, but things start to get twitchy once you start crossing borders.

That said, be wary of not stepping on FB’s toes lest you get your page revoked. That link is really worth reading, btw, because the policy changes will affect many aspects of giveaways that people are used to seeing. Google + also probably has similar policies in place.

In Canada, for example, it’s illegal to do a giveaway where the winner is determined by chance because then it’s called a lottery. In order for it to be a legal contest, you need the contestants to demonstrate a skill, one that is capable of weeding out at least some of the contestants. Apparently a four part math question is sufficient, but it’s still necessary.

In Quebec, things get a little hairier. You’d need to register your giveaway, submit your advertisements 30 days before the giveaway starts, pay a fee of up to 10% of the prize, etc etc etc. No wonder so many sweepstakes are void in Quebec.

In the UK, you have similar problems with Canada.

Australia has similar laws too. Fancy that, considering that Canada and they were both under the same queen at a certain point…

En Zed seems to have less stringent rules, which is interesting and in keeping with the whole more laid-back vibe I get from them.

…I think I’ll just stop there instead of looking up all the different rules for all the various English speaking countries. There’s 58 sovereign states in that list, just FYI, guys.

But Katje, what are the chances of getting caught and prosecuted for giving away a bunch of my own books, even if it is a felony in some countries?

Well, to be honest, I would say it’s pretty low. So low as to make the fact that I spent the last couple of hours researching this rather than writing kind of ludicrous.

However, I personally have a fondness for knowing when I might be breaking the laws and forewarned is forearmed.

With all that in mind, this affects how I will structure the giveaways I had in mind. It also affects whether or not I end up enrolling Phoenix Chosen in KDP select for the set-up-to-be-free days or not.

Lots of food for thought…



Tiny bites…

I’ve been reading up on all the “how to make it as a self-publishing author” posts I can get my hands on and to be honest, it’s more than a wee bit intimidating.

By that, I mean I got so overwhelmed by the idea of doing everything on the must-do-or-else-fail-terrifically lists that I curled up in a fetal ball and whimpered for a day or so. Not my best moments, no, and very poor use of time at that.

Finally, I gave myself a stern talking to and decided to throw most of the to-do lists straight out the window. I may very well fish them back out in a month or so when I stop hyperventilating, but for now, baby steps.

In addition to writing/editing/behaving like a mostly-adult person, I’ve decided that I will try to keep a log of my self-publishing adventures as part of my blog-regularly effort. 

In the meantime, I feel that my spoons might be put to better use writing the next book and the next book after that before touching the whole promo end of things.

Because ultimately, why did I self-publish?

Yes, the lure of higher profits was part of it.

Yes, I am terrible at the whole hurry-up-and-wait game and I have no patience to speak of.

Ultimately, however, I think what tipped me over the edge where I didn’t even consider looking for an agent was because I really wanted to have full artistic control over the end result.

I wanted a specific style of cover by a specific artist: Phoenixlu. I wanted to make damn sure that my cover was not white-washed because “covers with POC don’t sell well”. I wanted to write a novel set in imperial China that was mostly fantasy with romantic elements despite being told “no one cares about China or Chinese mythology/legend”.

Estyria’s story is one that I’ve wanted to tell for years. It’s the story that I’ve had to grow into as a writer to tell, one that I wasn’t sure I could pull off. I’ve been struggling with it since 2004 — so 10 years of my life has gone into the plotting, planning, writing, re-writing and editing of this book. I can’t say how often I’ve been told that maybe I needed to set it aside and do something else, that maybe I needed to start with something easier, but I never could stay away. It and I grew together over the last decade and I can’t regret any of it. Perhaps I still haven’t managed to fully accomplish everything I wanted to do with it, but Phoenix Chosen is a story that I’m happy to put my name behind and call mine.

I also believe in Dean Wesley Smith’s take on rewriting. You learn more by doing than anything else and constantly trying to fix a story rather than moving on is the worst waste of time possible. It’s also why I believe that if fanfiction is your thing, that is the best way to start out — but that’s another post.

I only have so many spoons and I’d rather spend them on writing more stories rather than chasing the query-go-round.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. Stop being part of the Amazon=slush pile problem, right?

I agree, don’t contribute to what Chuck Wendig calls the spewing volcano of shit. But I don’t believe that if you write out a story, edit it, copyedit it and then send it out, that you’re doing anyone a disfavor. Yes, make a professional cover for it, find a good editor who will make it grammatically correct and hunt down all your typos. But as for plot, characterization, logic? It doesn’t matter. SOMEONE will like it. Whether or not enough someones will like it that you become the next E.L James or Stephanie Meyer remains to be seen, but if you’ve been professional about it, you aren’t adding to the problem. I can’t even list how many times I’m reading a book review where the reviewer says with great chagrin: “This book was like crack. I couldn’t put it down. The inconsistencies were legion, the characterization was shit, there was no logic whatsoever to anything going on — but I couldn’t put it down regardless.”

No one can tell what’s bad and what’s good until the populace gets their hands and brains around it. Too many literary works considered works of art have sunk like a stone and too many books that would make an English teacher sob have become runaway bestsellers for me to buy into the idea that there’s this standard of good.

So here’s to writing more stories, improving my craft through the doing and entertaining some people along the way.

As for promo… Perhaps tomorrow I’ll start finding people to follow on Twitter and try to strike up conversations with people. Maybe.