Not so long ago Amazon came out with a new tool for writers. A reporting dashboard that shows close to real time sales of their books on KDP. It’s cool, I have to admit, and really helps see how things are unfolding in a meaningful way. Things like promotions, new releases, price changes, etc.. And it helps the neurotic writer that can’t help but check their sales constantly have the data at hand almost immediately.
Me, I got over the addiction to staring at numbers a long time ago. Now I still check regularly, but not for a narcotic buzz. I do it to track progress and have reliable data on what works and what doesn’t. It’s a constant ever-learning process too, so it’s important to know what’s going on. And, I’ll admit, there are times when a big surge will still make me giddy as a school girl. Although I can’t ever remember seeing a giddy school girl, you get the idea.
Last night we (myself and Dawn Michelle, my ravishing wife) released the fifth part of her Claimed by the Beast paranormal serial romance. This morning when I checked a few minutes ago to see if it had gained much traction I saw an amazing thing. Not only is it doing quite well so far, but for the first time in, like, ever we’ve sold more books today than we’ve given away as freebies. The difference is pretty minimal (9 books more sold), but I’ve never seen anything like that before. I don’t expect to see it again, honestly, but it’s pretty cool.
Why not? Well, I have multiple books that are free and the first one in Dawn’s Claimed by the Beast series is free also. Want to know more about them? Here’s the links:
And here’s the cover and blurb from Dawn’s latest serial:
The life of a teenage girl is never a simple thing. From drama to decisions made without considering the repercussions, Crystal has to live with the consequences. Her mistakes have cost her more than just a normal life, they’re threatening her friends and family as a savage monster stalks the people she loves.
Even her whirlwind romance is starting to fall apart around her, making her second guess herself. Is living the life she dreamed about worth the people that get hurt along the way? It’s a price that her enemies are only too happy to help her pay.
As for me, I’m nearly finished with Voidhawk – Broken Shards. After that I’ll help my wife with her next project, something that is related to the Claimed by the Beast series but is a historical paranormal serial romance (we’re trying to see how many genres we can hit at one time). Then I’ll be back writing more about Vitalis. Or at least that’s my plan so far…
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.
Our culture puts a premium on aesthetics. Sculpted figures, plucked eyebrows, laser depilliation, and cosmetic surgery. It’s a multi-billion dollar business and it makes a person wonder if it’s all worth it. The great news is, this post has NOTHING to do with any of that!
I’m a writer anxious to find any ethical means possible to sell my books. Part of that means having some outstanding cover art for them. By and large, I’ve surpassed that goal with everything I have. But sometimes there are exceptions to that rule. Exceptions that knock even my personal standards away… but more on that in a moment.
For my 50th title available for sale, I put together my fantasy series, Order of the Dragon. It consists of four books that continue the adventures of the characters in the Blades of Leander trilogy. This comes right after I put out a 4th book in my Wanted series, which meant my trilogy omnibus needed to be updated to a series. More cover art changes!
Willsin Rowe to the rescue! Not only did he make the minor changes to the text for Wanted, but he put into reality some work he’d been dabbling with for 3D style cover art. So now Wanted and the new Order of the Dragon boxed sets show some outstanding cover art! The only problem was the original Blades of Leander omnibus – how could we leave it plain and 2D? Willsin put his creative genius to work and a couple of days later he gave me my answer. A new 3D cover for all 3 of them!
But is a new cover art, no matter how amazing, reason enough to buy the book? Well, if you ask me and if it’s about my books – absolutely! But if not, then consider the great deal getting all of these top rated books at once is. How can you go wrong?
Mathew McConaughey won an Oscar the other night for his work in the movie, Dallas Buyers Club. This isn’t news at this point, so let’s move on to speech he gave. It was a speech that I found to be rather peculiar.
Mr. McConaughey rattled off three things that he needed every day. And then he ended the speech with a quote from Dazed and Confused, which I personally considered one of his finer roles. All in all though, the speech left me a little confused and wondering if he and Gary Busey have been spending a lot of time together.
I’m not here to discuss or judge the merits of that speech other than to draw attention to one of his three needs. He mentioned he needs someone to aspire to be. The target of that need is himself, 10 years in the future. It sounded a little cheesy to me in the speech, but the important part is the recognition of what potential the future holds and the fact that with hard work and hope can make for a great tomorrow.
For example, two days ago I would never have guess that my futuristic sci-fi book, Vitalis, would shoot from being in Amazon’s 18,000 – 19,000 ranking to being 2,412 this morning when I woke up. A book about the future with a bright future. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Now my book and Mathew McConaughey have nothing in common beyond that tenuous line of logic, but if he wanted to pick a character to portray in a movie of the book, well, I would be open to talk about it. We could even call it the Vitalis Buyers Club…
Jokes aside, I’m very excited to see Vitalis doing so well. So I’m writing this, to try and convince other people to go and check it out and share my excitement with me. Readers write me about the Vitalis books and I love discussing the story with them. In fact, there’s been a few times where I’ve had new ideas, twists, and even characters arise from those discussions. And for only $.99 for a novel that’s well beyond 100,000 words, how can you go wrong?
So please, give it a look and some honest consideration. Vitalis has metric tons of fast paced excitement involving pirates, aliens, a new world, insufficient resources (including clothing, in some cases), politics, intrigue, and even a few crazy people. And unlike a lot of sci-fi the science isn’t there to be the story, it’s there to sit in the background, be cool, and allow the story to take place. As a few readers have said, Vitalis is a great intro into a genre (sci-fi) that they never had any interest in before.
I sat down with a little time to spare this morning and tried to figure out what I should be doing. Relax? Heck no! Spare time is time that should be filled with something productive, after all. My options were more studying for a certification I’m working towards or I could do some writing on my current work in progress, The Broken Path (book 3 in my Blades of Leander fantasy series). The Broken Path scares me a little though. In the three days since I officially started it I’ve thrown down over 15,000 words on it. For my non-writing readers, that’s a considerable amount.
So rather than leaping into another feverish and obsessive writing spree I decided I should write about writing instead. Thus I’m here, tossing words on a screen for this blog. It’s not a waste of time, provided I’ve entertained or educated someone out there, but it may also not be as productive as working on the story. But that’s okay.
I’ve read some interviews or viewpoints from some writers that say writers shouldn’t blog. They think they should spend time writing, not doing activities that takes away from that. Others, including myself, have argued that it can be creatively helpful to write up a blog post to get the juices flowing and make a transition into working on the next great story that much easier. Then there’s some people that think blogging is essential to the success of a writer because it allows them to interact with readers and promote / market themselves.
Well I’m all for marketing and promotion. I suck at it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a firm believer that people can’t buy what they don’t know about. I have to take a page out of the book I’m reading right now (Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography) where he talks repeatedly about how his movies and his career was a success because of how much marketing he personally did for them. Internationally, no less. The man went as many places as he could to push his movies and convince distributors and theatres to show them, as well as working with the movie studios on the promotional campaigns for them. One example is Total Recall (the movie, not the book, and not the recent movie with Colin Farrell). The original trailers sucked for it and nobody was interested because it hadn’t been promoted worth a darn. Arnold was upset about that and arranged to get the head of the studio to watch an advanced screening with him 3 weeks out from release date. The guy was blown away by the film and disgusted by what his people were doing to promote it. They brought in an outside firm and in those three weeks boosted the public interest so much that Total Recall was one of the highest selling blockbusters that year. Had it not been for that promotion it still would have been a good movie, but hardly anybody would have known about it.
So is promotion and marketing important? Hell yes. The vast majority of us don’t have the budget to invest to achieve that kind of success though. Instead flukes like 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight somehow become viral through chance. Or maybe, like John Locke, they’ve got some hidden secret they figured out that was just right for the time when they hit it big, granting them the opportunity to skyrocket into the stars. Mr. Locke’s secret isn’t so secret anymore, he bought tons of reviews for his books when they came out, boosting them in the charts and convincing people that they were great books. To his credit, his books continue to sell and I don’t hear about too many people that say his books are poorly written. Apparently the ends justifies the means in this case.
So will blogging help me reach that level? I doubt it. It’s a fun thing to do and it helps me ramp up my productivity though. Maybe it helps other writers, readers, and random people from all walks of life too. What I can say is that I have had very few readers reach me via my blog. My feedback with readers almost always comes through email, and that’s not an infrequent thing. I respond to them all and enjoy doing so – with some conversations taking place back and forth for a few days. But those readers always tell me about the books and the characters they enjoyed, they don’t mention how my blog was a wonderful thing for them to find and enjoy.
Instead I’ll keep on trying different things and doing what I can to build my brand. I’ve found that writing a large number of books definitely helps. Kind of like salmon fishing with six lines in the water at once instead of sitting on a dock with a fishing pole in my hand – the more opportunities there are for people to find me, the better my odds are. But that’s still not much better than tossing darts while blindfolded. What I’m ultimately trying to find is a way to shine a light on my books and let people know where they are and that yes, they really are a great book.
To prove my point I just read a five star review this morning from someone about Bounty and my Wanted trilogy in general where they said, “I’m not recommending that you buy these books, I’m tell you that you must buy these books!” That’s the kind of feedback I’m getting from people and that’s why I believe that my books are worth reading.
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.
There’s a lot of books out there, and there’s a lot of different methods to get a book. Amazon, like them or not, is the reigning commander of all things “book” on the Internet. Ebook or print, Amazon is where the majority of the Internet savvy world goes to get their read on. For myself and other writers that means we must work with and use Amazon if we hope to have any chance of success.
If Amazon’s new author ranking system is worth believing, I’m doing pretty darn good compared the vast majority of writers out there. Pretty darn good, for the record, is nowhere near good enough. I’m working on that, but the fact that I’ve had more success than most makes me want to offer up some bits and pieces of what I’ve figured out for other writers. I don’t see writing as a competition. Show me a person who reads who will only read a single book in his or her lifetime. No such thing, barring a severe reaction the closing a book that results in an untimely death.
Having said all that, I don’t really have anything new to share that I haven’t shared in the past. I’m always trying to find new things to try, but alas, I’m not finding that many. I do have a promo campaign running for my Vitalis Omnibus book, but it’s more of a slow burn than an instead path to success. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself to justify the lack of results. :-) To be fair, a lot of the exciting things that should start making a difference will start up in November.
Until then I just keep on writing. I’m working on my next book (Bounty, book 3 in my Wanted trilogy), and I’ll be releasing Child of Fate, book 1 in a new fantasy series, sometime in November. And I keep writing blog posts too, like this one. To be brutally honest I’m doing whatever I can to try and snag and interest readers to check out my stuff (case in point, see those links throughout this blog? Click on ‘em, go ahead, you know you want to. You’ll like them, I promise!).
I’ll stoop to almost any means of generating interest, provided it’s ethical and legal to do so. As a matter of fact, just last night I received a wonderful email from a new fan who admitted to me that she picked up the first book in my Lost Girls series because it was free. She was hooked and bought the other ones as soon as she could. She just finished them and loved them, then she had to tell me. We had a nice conversation over email about things, and what was invaluable to me.
By talking to me she helped me get to know my readers a little better. Sure, she was one of many, but I’ll take what I can get. She provided a new point of view on things and gave me some direction for other things to try. She was excited to get some of my other books and read them and it was a great experience for both of us. Win-win!
But what about other writers trying to get the word out about there books? What’s the secret or the trick to being noticed, especially if you only have a couple of books available? I’m not sure there is any sure-fire method, it’s just a manner of doing as much as you can to try and be noticed. I read a blog post recently by a well established writer (Dean Wesley Smith, I think, but my apologies to Mr. Smith if I’ve gotten him confused with another writer) that eschewed writers from tweeting and blogging about their books. I read it and I came away with a bitter taste in my mouth.
Sure, the author of that post has hundreds of books he’s written. Other people only have a handful. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to get some awareness generated. Nor does it mean that they are wasting time by tweeting, Facebooking, or blogging about their books or their writing. Even if the 800 words of this blog could be put into the book I’m writing right now, it’s not going to slow me down or impede my progress. I’ve also got over 20 books published, but I’ve been working hard at trying to promote myself since I only had a handful.
Ultimately, in my experience, what I write in a promotional or marketing medium has very little impact compared to what I’ve written in an entertaining fashion. By that I mean my books have been the best sales tactic for me, BUT that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had a measure of success from social media as well. If I had to guess I’d say only 5% – 10% of my sales come from social media, but without that 5% – 10% I’d have 5% to 10% fewer sales. When you’re in the starving artist stages of a writing career every sale means the world to you.
So I say do what you can, so long as it doesn’t hinder your progress. That and be careful with Twitter, they seem to have a random number generator when it comes to suspending accounts without reason or explanation! Or maybe that’s just more bitterness talking since I still can’t get a non-automated response from that company after nearly a week and a half.
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.