Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

Another Grab Bag – and Why Facebook Disappoints

First off, the clickbait explained – Facebook. For any content provider (or at least for us writers), Facebook has become less and less useful. Oh sure, some might argue Facebook ads bring in lots of sales for them. Good for you – I haven’t seen it. I’ve tried, believe me. I’ve spent hundreds and even thousands of dollars on Facebook ads, but the return wasn’t as much as I invested. That’s bad business (for me, not for Facebook).

But the ads are only one reason Facebook leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It’s all the content I’m missing from people I elected to be my friends. That’s what irks me. That, and the pages I’ve liked that I don’t see updates from because I didn’t drill down into the menus on their page and notify Facebook that yes, I really do want to see their content. Didn’t I already do that when I clicked “like?” Stupid Facebook.

So, that segues into the reason for this blog post. Not to bitch about Facebook, but as means of me (hopefully) blogging more. Instead of posting updates only on my Facebook page, I’ll post them here on my blog. The blog posts go to Facebook (for now – I’m sure they’ll try to limit or monetize that in the future too), my website, my Twitter feed, and my blog (who knew?). Hopefully this way I can reach the extra people who are missing out on Facebook, even if it ends up being only a handful.

This wouldn’t be much of an update if that’s all I shared though, now would it? How about I share the three books that were just released under Dawn Michelle’s name (I’m on the books as an author now too). Claimed by the Dragon King (rewritten from the original release in a winter anthology), Flight of the Dragon King, and Defending the Dragon King. My wife and I teamed up on those books (part of an ongoing series called The Continuum) creatively, so I earned partial credit. They were released last week and are available all over the place (see below for links).

I also JUST clicked the submit button on my latest project, a book called Symbols inspired by my recent vacation in Silver Lake. It’s a bit different from what I usually do – this is a supernatural thriller / horror story. I admit, I was worried I’d lost my way at one point, but then everything came in together for a beautiful ending that I’m still thrilled about. Then again, it’s not uncommon (for me, at least) to start to wonder if I can really pull together everything I’ve been working on in a book and bring it to a proper close. No links for that one yet, but hopefully tomorrow I can share them.

So, until I get around to that, go check out The Continuum books!


Claimed by the Dragon King Flight of the Dragon King Defending the Dragon King
Amazon UK
Everyone Else
Amazon UK
Everyone Else
Amazon UK
Everyone Else


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

Look Ma, New Ads!

February 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Continuing the website rebuild project I’ve added a section on the bottom left. I forget what I called it, but it’s under my newsletter signup form. The content of this section is a single ad chosen randomly among the ads I have on file. So far I’ve got four, one for my wife, a couple of other authors, and another to a new website put up to showcase free reads on the Kindle.

My plan? Millions of dollars in advertising revenue, of course! Okay, maybe not. In fact, I’m not charging a damn thing for this. Stupid? Maybe, but I don’t figure I can justify charging until I know if it does any good. So far the results are disappointing, but I am tracking the number of displays and number of clicks. Then, if things do eventually start working out, I may dig deeper into monetizing it.

But how? Am I going to be one of THOSE guys that charges for ad space? Maybe…but probably not. I’d rather go with an affiliate account and spare my fellow starving writers. That and I have this annoying habit of trying to help people. Sure, my ulterior motive is that if they succeed I can ride their coat tails into greatness, but so far I remain firmly entrenched in the helping others mode.

This experiment did get me thinking though. What other web pages can I build up to help myself and others? The ad I added last night really got me thinking. Except that’s already been done now, so what else can I do? Happily taking ideas if anybody has them.

And yes, I need to build up a website for Dawn Michelle too, but that’s going to take a little more time and effort. Meanwhile I’ve still got to write. Rise of the Serpent is coming very soon and I’m on chapter four of Out of the Dark, book two in the Dark Universe series. At this rate I should have Out of the Dark ready to go by mid to late March, as long as I can do my part and my editor and cover artist are available.

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

NY Times Bestseller At Last!

November 20, 2014 1 comment

Yesterday the bundle, A Kiss of Christmas Magic, was listed on the NY Times bestseller list at spot #11. It pegged #31 on the USA Today bestseller list. For those that follow this blog, my newsletter, or website / Facebook page, you might remember the second longest story in that bundle is by Dawn Michelle. Dawn Michelle happens to be the name my wife and I write under (and it’s also her name, if you want to get technical). So, in a roundabout way, that means after five years of being a professional writer, I’m finally a NY Times bestselling author. Queue up the confetti, sirens, parade, and line of celebratory cocktails.

Then I checked my daily sales this morning. On the same day I sold 19 books and Dawn Michelle sold 4. How’s that for taking the wind out of my sails? Or sales…whichever spelling you prefer (see what I did there?)

I have to say that, hands down, the group of writers I worked with where fun, amazing, and professional. Well, a few times we might not have been professional, but it was in a fun and energizing sort of way. The point is, every one of them deserves it, and every one of them is a damn fine writer on their own merits.

What the process also told me is that being a great writer isn’t nearly enough. I always believed that if you write a good book, and write enough of them, the volume and quality of work will speak for itself. The readers and sales will come. Life will be good. After nearly writing 70 books and receiving a lot of outstanding reviews and praise, I’m here to say that enough isn’t enough.

To hit the list we needed the combined might of a whole lot of fan bases, first and foremost. Some of the authors have dedicated fans in numbers that left me staggering. I learned a LOT in the process, including the sheer masses of paranormal romance readers that are out there. I mean…wow! There’s a lot.

But that wasn’t enough, we needed more. That more came in the form of literally thousands of dollars spent in advertising. I can’t begin to grasp where all of it went, but there was a lot of ads out there getting the word out. That was a huge contributer. It bumped us up to our peak of #15 on the Amazon bestselling chart (all paid books).

So this is me being happy and also warning fledgling writers out there. Sure, there will always be exceptions to the rule that skyrocket to the top for no reason other than right time, right place, right luck. The over 99.9999% of us have to bust our asses. It’s a business and there’s no such thing as fair play. Write your asses off and understand it doesn’t end there. There’s a lot more to it than that. And if you’re like me without a budget for such extras, that means figuring it out and finding the time to do it yourself.

Good luck my friends – now that I’ve hit the NY Times list my plans are… write another book.


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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