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Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

Den of Sin

A subject like that implies decadence at the least, with possibly some hedonism and bloodshed mixed in. I suppose that’s not too far from the truth since this post is my attempt to advertise and advertisement. Once your head stops spinning, read on!

Today I’ve got a promotion going out over at Kindle Books and Tips for a book. It’s none other than the book J. Knight Bybee and I wrote together called Devil’s Island. Devil’s Island happens to be the first in the Fallen Angels series, and this promo is our attempt to both advertise the sale price of $.99 in conjunction with the new release of Devil’s Rising, book 2 in the series.

Given the book titles and the title of this blog post, you’ve probably got an idea about the books genre. Yes, there’s a load of occult and religious stuff going on. No excessive preaching or anything of the sort though. Our mission is to entertain, not to make you feel guilty.

And oh yeah, there’s all sorts of entertainment. I really had a lot of fun working on these books (and continuing the project on the next book in the series). So much character growth and development with characters that anyone can identify with.

But enough of me, already! Go check out the promo over at Kindle Book and Tips. Give this page, that page, or any other affiliated page a like to help us spread the word.

Book 1 of the Fallen Angles series by Jason Halstead and J. Knight Bybee

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

 

Three Months Later the Marketing Campaign Results Are In

December 12, 2012 1 comment

I spent a lot of money (for me) to promote my books, starting on 9/22 and running to 12/21. Specifically it was geared towards my Vitalis book, which is an omnibus of the first 7 novellas in that series. I blogged about it and tweeted about it as well as what the marketing firm did for me. I researched the firm at length and hoped for some rocking results. I didn’t expect any because that’s how I roll, but I hoped. And no, I’m not going to release the name of the firm because I don’t hold them directly responsible. They didn’t do anything wrong, as near as I can tell.

And to be completely fair they have a couple of tasks yet to finish. After all, there are 10 days left in the campaign and the project chart they published shows finish dates ending next week. So maybe something miraculous will happen just before x-mas. Yeah, I’m not holding my breath.

So here’s the numbers: Before the campaign started my average daily sales was 56.2 books. During the campaign the average dropped to 54.2 and that includes the release of two additional books in that time frame (Vitalis: Resurrection and Bounty).

The book in question performed thusly:

August (pre-campaign): 124

September (mostly pre-campaign): 108

October: 81

November: 82

December (forecasted based on mtd sales): 86

So that’s a kick in the pants. In May alone amongst all 7 novellas that are in the Omnibus I sold 5920 copies (at $.99 each). Now I’m struggling to hit 80 – 90? It kind of stings. I took all the $.99 novellas offline because of the massive hate they were receiving from reviewers that felt I was trying to screw them out of $.99 for each part of the overall story. It didn’t matter that each novella was a story in and of itself or that my intentions couldn’t have been further from that. That stung too.

Yes, May has been my best sales month since I’ve been writing. I’m hoping to get back up there in the future (and exceed it), but I’ve got a long ways to go. These days I’ve got 23 books available and another one in the works. I’m still clearing well over 1000 books sold per month, but that’s not enough to pay the bills by themselves. Fortunately for me, I’m a stubborn son of a bitch! I’ll keep writing and putting more stuff out there. Readers tell me they love what I do and they try to bring more people into the fold. My reviews these days are solid 4 and occasional 5 stars (with a 3 star outlier hear and there). The day will come and I won’t stop even when that day gets here!

Enough whining! Back to the promo firm / campaign review. My book income does not replace the income from my primary job that I lost very recently. Thus the sizable amount of money that I paid out for this campaign that did not give me a return on my investment is doubly painful. My recommendation to writers is to abstain from anything of this nature. It doesn’t do any good. You’re far better off spending money on editing and artwork to make sure you’ve got the most presentable and enjoyable story you can possibly have. That will generate sales.

As for the promo company I used, I still don’t blame them. All the guest blog posts I wrote I never received any notice of from my Google Alerts. All the other tasks I did – no clue where they went. I know the ad company tried their best, I just wish I’d listened to my skepticism. Still, I learned a valuable (and costly lesson). I may be naive when it comes to marketing, but I’m not stupid.

Oh, and by the way, it’s looking very promising regarding my job hunt. I’ve been contacted by so many recruiters and company’s that are hiring it’s nearly become harassment. I think this is a great time to have my skill set and education and be looking for a job – the economy, as far as I can tell, is definitely coming back around! I’ve accepted one, provided my security clearance with the DoD comes back clean. It’s going to move me back to Michigan but I’m really looking forward to the new job. Thanks to everyone who offered me warm thoughts and words of encouragement!

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

This is what worked for me

I’ve been reading recently about how Amazon changed their algorithms to determine what’s listed on the most popular lists. I guess there are now three lists even, one which takes free books into account, one which decreases freebies and another which ignores free books and weighs books based on their price (higher price = higher ranking).

This change is upsetting a lot of independent writers, most especially those that use the KDP Select program. By offering up their books for a day or two free every 30 days they can boost their downloads and appear higher on the “most popular” charts. Then they drop down again as other people do the same thing. It’s a vicious cycle that requires a lot of work. I tried it for a little while and my ultimate opinion on it was…not for me.

I felt kind of like a used car salesman offering up blue light specials and dancing leprechaun gimmicks. Instead I decided to forgo the KDP Select and instead focus on expanding my distribution to include Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, and a few other retailers for my ebooks. My print books are available to Amazon and Createspace.

So what’s my angle? I’ve got free books out there. But the difference is they’re free all the time. Voidhawk, Wanted, and Dark Earth are freebies at present. I anticipate that changing in the near future, but for the benefit of my readers. I’m adding another freebie to the mix! But more on that when it becomes available.

Until then, I’ve got my freebies that stay free. The sequels for those books I do sell, and I seem to do pretty well at them. Not well enough to give my dayjob the finger, but I’m working on that.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

 

Researching Success – Continued

February 9, 2012 1 comment

A fellow writer and dear friend of mine, J.E. Taylor, paid for an advertisement as book of the day in Ereader News Today late last year. Thanks to the exposure, her sales skyrocketed for a couple of days. It wasn’t just exposure, for the record, I happen to think she’s a hell of a writer too. I’ve been trying to get a spot reserved in there as well but apparently I haven’t been quick enough to snag one for 2012. Woe is me.

But I did just manage to land a quarter page ad in a magazine called Shelf Unbound. It went live today and I have to say, I was impressed with it. Not just my ad, but the magazine too. Check it out, my ad is on page 37. While you’re there enjoy the magazine too – it’s free and interesting.

How are my sales doing because of this? Well it just went live this afternoon and it won’t be published to iTunes until 24 – 48 hours, so I’ll wait and see. The add will run through March, giving me (hopefully plenty of exposure). I’ll be sure to post on the success (or lack thereof) for this experiment as well…although if it’s successful I may be slightly delayed until after I get a few more ads lined up for future issues!

As far as overall success as a writer is concerned, I consider the fact that I can consider paying for an advertisement to be a milestone in itself. I’ve got a long ways to go, but I’m fighting to get there!

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Amazon Prime: Am I Naive or Ignorant?

January 14, 2012 7 comments

I tossed a couple of my books into the KDP Select program back in December. KDP Select allows Amazon Prime members the opportunity to download a book for free and read it at their leisure, then check it back in when they’re finished so they can get another one (free). For each borrow against my books I get an even share of the $500,000 pool Amazon set aside. This could be a good or a bad thing, depending upon what that share is worth.

For December it worked out to be $1.70 per borrow. Considering the books I entered were $.99 books (every book in my Vitalis series is only $.99), if I sold a copy I would only receive $.35. Having them borrowed, on the other hand, was far more lucrative for me. Even better news, the program worked so well in December that Amazon upped the port to $700,000 in January of 2012.

Now the flip side – I had 9 copies of two books borrowed in December. 9 * 1.70 = $15.30. Nothing outstanding but I’ll take every penny I can get at this point. So far almost halfway through January I have 6 borrows. I also slipped two more books into being Amazon only – Human Nature and Sex Sells. No borrows on those yet, but It’s only been three days so far and those aren’t big selling books. I blame the cover art I have on them for starters. I’m told the books are great (I agree, but I’m biased). The other reason marketing tactics, I’ve never used any. Time to put an end to that!

That’s the other benefit for authors in the KDP Select program: promotions. I can schedule 1 – 5 days in a 90 day period for each book to be offered for free. How does that help sales? It slips the book to links where people can find and grab it, and the more people that grab it, the more lists it gets on. That’s exposure, and exposure is what sells books for a little feller like me.

Thus Human Nature has been available for free yesterday and today. I’ll probably try it again next month some time. Sex Sells I plan to have go free on Tuesday and Wednesday of the coming week (January 17 & 18). Not long after that I’ll run New Beginnings (in my Vitalis series) free for a day or two as well as a gimmick to help boost interest in the release of the third book in that series (Parasites). Parasites will also be in the KDP Select program, for the Amazon Prime readers out there.

Speaking of Amazon Prime, WTF is it? I’ll be honest, before KDP Select I had no idea. I live in my sheltered world writing, working, and picking up heavy weights. I don’t get out much and when I do it’s because I’ve been dragged (kicking and screaming) to the mall so my wife can go shopping. I did, however, get a Kindle Fire for Christmas. It’s neat, I really enjoy it and I wish it would have been available a few years ago when I suckered myself into buying my iPad. C’est la vie. Shoppers remorse aside, the Kindle Fire came with a month of free Amazon Prime membership. So I got to see what all the buzz was about.

I still don’t get it. I hear Prime members get free shipping. Great… I’m not selling enough books to do much in the way of shopping yet though. Okay, what about borrowing KDP Select books? I tried it and was surprised to see I can only borrow one book a month, even if I return it. Suddenly it seemed much less worth it to me. It began to make sense why I wasn’t getting more borrows on my books. It’s a work in progress though, both for me and, I’m sure, for Amazon. If there’s more cool features to being a Prime member I’d like to learn about those too. Until then I’ll keep experimenting with trying to get more exposure for my books.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

The Power of the Sequel

November 2, 2011 4 comments

In the world of Hollywood sequels are often viewed with trepidation, at best. One of the finest examples that immediately leaps to my mind is Starship Troopers. Great book by Robert Heinlein and an entertaining movie – though without nearly the same thought-provoking impact of the book. But then they went and made a sequel. And after that they made ANOTHER sequel, both straight to DVD release. They sucked.

Other movie franchises have similar stories, but occasionally a few will shine. With books it is a different story (pun intended). People want more out of most novels. They want to know more about the characters and see how they might act / react in different situations. An author never has to worry about compensating an actor, the character belongs to him or her already. The world and character are already familiar for the author, it’s just a matter of coming up with a new situation or expanding on an old one. Easy enough, right?

Sequels can be tricky, and that’s if you’re lucky. They can also be downright difficult to write. There’s continuity to worry about with the prior book, and then there’s trying to advance the story arc and characters without ruining them. It can be downright daunting sometimes! I’ve had my share of times where I wanted a character to say or do something that made sense, but didn’t fit with who they were. Sure that can happen in a stand-alone or in a series, but if the book stands by itself and doesn’t have to maintain a persistent thread, it can be worked into the character. Heck, it can even increase complexity and make for an interesting character trait! Establishing a character and then having him or her behave contrary to their nature in a sequel, on the other hand, will get you slapped by an editor and shunned by a reader.

So why bother with it if it’s such a hassle? Well the truth is the hassle isn’t that great. Or at least it’s not that bad compared to the positive reasons to go after it. Sure fact checking for consistency can be a pain, but it’s not that much of a pain. You get to spend more time with characters and settings you love (otherwise why’d you write the first one?). And let’s not forget the icing on the cake – sales!

Yes sales. I’m really starting to see some major impact from having more than one series of books available. Voidhawk, my first published book, has two sequels to it, but their success has paled in comparison to the first one. Or at least that was the case. In October sales for Voidhawk – The Elder Race, increased considerably over prior months. Likewise the third book in the series, Voidhawk – Redemption, saw a proportional growth in sales. I didn’t do a single thing to advertise them, other than letting people know on the Voidhawk sites that it had a sequel available. In October I continued to bring new people in to read Voidhawk but for those who had read it and wanted more, they had an opportunity to do so! I expect November to be very similar.

Another book of mine is Wanted. It seems to be the crowd favorite amongst all my novels. Well I recently published the sequel to it, Ice Princess. For the past two months I’ve seen sales of Ice Princess come in at a very solid and steady 2nd place amongst my offerings (with Wanted firmly holding the top spot). Great cover and a decent blurb, sure, but by letting people know that it’s book 2 in the series, readers who finish the first one are turning around and snatching it up to read it as soon as they’re done.

That, my friends, is the power of a sequel. Persistent sales and presence. It’s a win-win-win scenario. I get to write more about characters and environments I love, my readers get to experience characters and environments they enjoy, and I stray relevant and fresh in people’s minds for when they’re looking for a new book to read. For example, they’re wondering what they should read next and they remember that I wrote book A, then book B, maybe they should check and see if there’s a book C available.

I believe so strongly in writing a series of books that I’m working on additional ones. The first book in my Vitalis series, New Beginnings, has been available for a little while now. The second book will be out this year. The Lost Girls takes place in my Dark Earth setting, and will also have a direct sequel available this year as well called Traitor. For both of these new ones I have additional books planned (or already written and waiting for their time). And to help people discover them on top of advertising and promotion there’s one final trick to use – pricing.

Wanted and Voidhawk, the first books in each series, are priced at $1.99 to encourage people to check them out. Once they’ve read them they can’t help but want to come back for more, and that’s why the following books are at full / normal price. For the record my normal / full price isn’t anything outlandish or even comparable to a traditionally published print book. It’s still cheaper than a cup of premium coffee and guaranteed to satisfy you considerably longer.

I’d be a fool if I didn’t encourage you to go and check these books out to see if I know what I’m talking about.

Wanted, book 1, by Jason Halstead

Wanted, on Amazon

Wanted on Amazon

Wanted on Barnes and Noble

Wanted on Smashwords

Voidhawk, book 1 in a science fiction / fantasy series by Jason

Voidhawk, on Amazon

Voidhawk on Amazon

Voidhawk on Barnes and Noble

Voidhawk on Smashwords

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

The Slippery Road to Writing Success

Am I successful? Only in moderation. Every month I sell a few more books, which is showing a good trend. I’m years away from making it my primary vocation though. While that may be something I hope makes my co-workers rejoice, it only makes me work harder.

There are other barometers for success though. I’m being asked more and more often to do blog interviews, guest posts, and enter into book giveaways. As a case in point I was just interviewed by Heather Powers at Earth’s Book Nook. It was a little different than other interviews I’ve done, which made it fun for me because I could branch out a little more with my answers. She even asked which of my characters I identified the closest with. Rather than spoil the fun head on over to Earth’s Book Nook and read it yourself!

So more sales and more recognition are good things, right? Sure they are, but they’re not enough. Of course there’s a point where enough is enough and anything beyond that is icing on the cake, but I’ve got a long ways to go to get there. My mantra is to always push for more. More success at writing, more success in the gym, being a better husband and father, and everything else I can do. Sure, self-help related stuff makes some people uncomfortable, but I argue that those willing to seek change and improvement are the strongest people of all. Right up to the point where they start consulting with psychics and astrologists, that is.

As another tactic at trying to push for more success I’ve tweaked my prices on my Voidhawk series. The new revised pricing, good as of this very morning, has Voidhawk, Voidhawk The Elder Race and Voidhawk Redemption all priced at only $1.99! I can’t even buy a decent cup of coffee that cheap, let alone provide the hours of entertainment found in each book!

Voidhawk, book 1 in a science fiction / fantasy series by Jason

Voidhawk - the book that started it all


Voidhawk book 2, The Elder Race

Voidhawk - The Elder Race


Voidhawk - Redemption cover art, by A.J. McLain

Voidhawk Redemption

How to Advertise

September 29, 2011 3 comments

Happy news, I set a new record for sales this month. Two records, actually – I sold more copies of Wanted this month than ever before and on top of that, I doubled last months sales a day before the end of the month. Ah hell, how about the hat trick – Wanted also broke the 20,000 mark in “all sold books” on Amazon. A couple more sales and it’ll break 10,000 – hint, hint. :)

But this is about advertising. How’d I get to where I’m at? Wanted has two review on Amazon. Sure, they’re both good reviews, but only two. It’s got a striking cover. Not the best, but it’s good. I’m tried my best to make the Amazon page appealing…but again, it’s one of many. So why is it doing reasonably well?

Pricing maybe? I’ve got it at $.99 at the moment. Yes, that helps. But it doesn’t pull people in to look at it in the first place. That’s a combination of me doing my best to make it available as many places as possible, including Twitter.

Ah yes, Twitter. The marketing mecca of the 21st century. I’ve amassed roughly 5000 followers and I regularly send out tweets that promote my books. Not directly, typically. Usually I’m either throwing out a snippet from a review and suggesting people check it out because, damn it, I’m proud of what somebody said in that review. At other times if I think there’s a particularly catchy phrase in a book I’ll tweet that as well. One of the best catch phrases in Wanted, for example, is: “We’re all whores, darling,” he said. “I ain’t judging you, I just don’t care.” If that’s not cool I don’t know what is.

And, of course, if you’re going to give people a reason to check out something, give ‘em a link to do so! The easier you make it for someone, the greater the chance of generating that click. I’m a reader too and if I’ve got to do the extra work to find something like looking it up, odds are good you just lost me as a buyer. It’s not that I’m a prick, it’s that I’ve got a lot of things going on. I’m a busy man, and while my time is not any more valuable than yours is, it is valuable nonetheless. Treat your would-be readers with the same respect you want to be treated with and you’ll get a lot further.

I mentioned pride above. As in I’m proud of the reviews I’ve received. I don’t have a massive amount, but so far I don’t have a single bad review. Sure, I expect sooner or later I’m going to ruffle somebody’s feathers, but it hasn’t happened yet. That doesn’t mean I’m the next NY Times #1 Bestseller, nor that I’m a marketing genius. It just means I’m doing okay and connecting with the right people who like what I write. This is called targeting my market. I’m no wizard at it – in fact I’d say I’m more lucky than anything, but that luck is aided by trying to find people on Twitter to follow and tweet with who share my interests. Who wants the apple at the top of the tree when there’s one at the bottom that’s just as good and you don’t need a ladder? Pluck the low hanging fruit first!

More on pride. I’ll be honest (for those who don’t know me) and admit that I can be rather full of myself when it comes to a few areas. Weight lifting, in particular power lifting, is something I’ve excelled at (and suffered catastrophic injuries while doing). I figure that earns me the right to talk a little smack. My day job and many prior jobs and college degrees / certifications state that I’m an expert in the IT field, so I can roll my eyes with the best of them there too.

But writing? Writing is personal. Writing is pouring time and effort and life into something that comes entirely from inside. Every character has a part of me in it, and short of reality TV stars, who’s comfortable baring parts of their souls to complete strangers? So a positive review, a positive rating, or even a sale is nothing short of humbling. Every time somebody reaches out to me on Twitter, Facebook, my blog, my website, or via email and says they enjoyed what I wrote I’m filled with a warm fluffy feeling.

Maybe I haven’t become jaded yet, but I have a hard time seeing that ever get old. Reading a book is an investment not only in the money spent buying it but also in time. The time is generally for more valuable. Even at minimum wage a single hour would buy any of my ebooks. Reading them, on the other hand, will take considerably longer. If someone’s willing to spend that much time with a little piece of my soul and then come back and say, “Hey, good job, I really liked what I read!” Well, is there a better compliment to be found?

So to tie that back into the advertising aspect, do little things like this. Share with the world just how damned appreciative and amazed I am that they like what I’m doing. As Lady Gaga figured out, nothing is possible in this type of market with the fans. So for anybody who’s read one of my books or one day plans on it, my door’s open and, so long as you’re not a stalker who wants to wear a bodysuit made out of my skin, I’m always happy to talk.

And now another chance to check out Wanted because, well, it’s a fun book with a main character who reminds us all of how we’d like to act if only we could get away with it. Well, for the most part, Carl can! And when you’ve finished Wanted and have questions, head on back to find the sequel, Ice Princess!

Wanted, book 1 by Jason Halstead
Wanted, on Amazon
Ice Princess, 2nd book in Wanted series, by Jason Halstead
Ice Princess, on Amazon
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