Friday, February 14, 2020

The Ins and Outs of My Recent Fussy Librarian Promotion

First, Happy Valentine's Day! I hope someone gave you a valentine.

Second, if you're not familiar with ebook promotional newsletters, basically, a company creates an email list of ebook buyers (subscribers have to opt in, but it's free to them) and then charges authors and publishers to include their books in a daily email to subscribers. There are many of these services now. BookBub is the biggest name (and the hardest to get into), but there are others, including Book Gorilla, Bargain Booksy/Free Booksy (they separate free books and cheap books into their two emails and if you want both, you have to subscribe to both.), The Fussy Librarian, and Ereader News Today (ENT). When books are on sale but not free, the email entry has an affiliate link and the company gets a small cut from the sale.

On February 8, I ran a Fussy Librarian promotion for The Sixth Discipline (a free ebook!) . The results were pretty good. I had not used FL in a while, so I didn't know what to expect.

I gave away hundreds of copies, mostly on Kindle. And of course, even though the email itself usually generates "sales" for the one day it runs, Amazon's online algorithms push popular books to readers so increased "sales" continues for a few days. As you can see in the screen snap below, the promo offered links to the the book on Kindle, Nook (B&N), Apple, Kobo and Google Play. The results in the list below the screen snap are "sales" for the day of the promo plus three days after.

Vendor:           No. of Copies given away February 8, 9, 10, and 11

Amazon Kindle: 277 (plus 5 paid*), 88 (plus 2 paid*), 28 (plus  1 paid*), 21 (none paid*)
Google Books: 20, 3, 2, 0
iBooks/Apple Books: 19, 0, 0, 0
Barnes & Noble 0, 0, 0, 0
Smashwords: 0, 1, 2, 0 (note: their link was not listed in the ad; these are normal numbers for comparison)
Kobo 0, 0, 0, 0

* The Kindle version wasn't free in all Amazon bookstores so the paid numbers represent foreign sales.

Note that The Sixth Discipline was my first published title, and it came out in 2011. It is free on Amazon only because Smashwords lets an author make a book free, and because Smashwords is a distributor as well as an e-tailer, the book is thus free on other platforms as well. Amazon practices price matching (which is why you see "Tell us about a cheaper price" links on a book's Amazon page);  if you make the book free elsewhere, Amazon will make the Kindle version free also. These days, I usually give away from zero to three Kindle copies every day, so promotions are helpful to boost "sales."

I think in a way, these numbers do a good job of representing how well each vendor is doing at ebook sales. Amazon is way ahead of the pack; its second day number beat all the others' first day totals combined. But Google and Apple both have a significant ebook presence, On the other hand, Barnes & Noble is pretty much dead in the water, and Kobo is going nowhere (at least in the US; it is more popular overseas where Amazon is less dominant). This explains one of the main reasons Amazon can tempt authors and publishers into enrolling their books in Kindle Unlimited: they give up small sales numbers on other platforms in return for money from KU borrows.

Right now both The Sixth Discipline and its sequel No Safe Haven are available only in ebook form but I am having new covers made, and formatting the books for print. I hope to have paperback versions available in a month or so. I might run another promotion after that, as a test of the new covers.

A word to other authors: Giving away this book makes some sense because there is a direct sequel that is not free, and I always see increased sales of it after a promotion of the first book. Giving away a standalone book is not usually as good an idea.  For one thing, a huge number of free ebooks are never read. Making a book free eliminates the cost barrier, so a lot of readers download a free book first, and then look to see if they want to read it. If you have books that are very similar, it can still be a good idea to make a book free for a day or two, in that it can drive up your sales numbers on Amazon temporarily and thus get the book in front of a lot of readers through the "customers also bought" function. That's another benefit of Kindle Unlimited; authors can make their books free or discounted for short periods of time.

Monday, February 10, 2020

I'm in a rave! Mark February 17, 5:00 pm EST on your calendar!

The winter Games (see post below) is still on in full swing. There is a rave today at 5:00 pm Eastern time. Raves are held in the Winter Games Readers' Challenge group on Facebook. You can post questions and authors will post their answers.

Raves are every Monday and Wednesday (always 5 pm EST) all through February. There are about 6-8 authors per rave, My rave is scheduled for Monday, February 17.

Remember, the deal is you get the book free but need to post a review online. Note that some authors (like me) have no way to make the book free online so you need to request it if you don't want to pay the $0.99 it costs. 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Winter Games for authors and readers!

I'm participating in an online (Facebook) get-together called the Winter Games. It's for authors and readers to connect, and hopefully, the readers find new books and authors they like, and writers get new readers and more reviews. The books are usually free, and if they are not, you can ask for a free copy.   The book I am featuring is ALIEN BONDS.

Readers need to sign up, so if you're interested, head on over! The opening ceremony is tonight at 5:00 pm Eastern time. During February there will be online "parties" in the Winter Games Readers Challenge Group on Facebook.

The Winter Games use this group for interactions between authors and readers so apply to join if you plan to participate.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

What a deal! ALIEN BONDS (Kindle version) now for sale for 99₵ #MFRWhooks

This week I'm participating in the Marketing for Romance Writers' Book Hooks blog (#MFRWhooks) with my novel ALIEN BONDS.  All the books in the project are free or cheap! Check out the list at the bottom of the blog if you're looking for something to read-- besides ALIEN BONDS, I mean!

Here's an excerpt from the beginning of the story, where prim human Dina Bellaire from the colony world Fantar meets Kuaron Du, a Wakanrean, for the first time-- right after she ditches the blind date a friend set her up with:

    He put down his glass and turned to face her. “Arliana said I should wait until later to ask you, but what the heck—Do you want to go to my place for a more intimate get together? I’ve got better food and booze than the Ambassador is providing, and I’m sure the two of us could have more fun alone.”
    Dina felt her face flush red. She hated that she couldn’t control her tendency to blush. Ever since she had left the comfortable familiarity of her native world, she had found herself in such situations. No longer shocked, she still couldn’t stop herself from reacting as a Fantaran.
    “I’m sorry.” She fought to keep disapproval out of her voice. “I have to be at work very early tomorrow morning.”
    Erik’s eyes opened wide. “Oh, come on! You can’t possibly be offended. Arliana said you were married on Croyzan.”
    Her mortification faded, and annoyance replaced it. “I fail to see that my life or my reactions are any business of yours.”
    Erik’s jaw went slack. “What?”
    Dina put her glass down on a nearby table. “It seems Arliana miscalculated in thinking we would hit it off. I think I’d better go.”
    He blinked. “What century do you all live in back on Fantar? Arliana isn’t a prude about sex. How was I to know you are?”
    Annoyance morphed into anger. She was trying not to judge him, but he had no qualms about judging her. “Well, it looks like Arliana’s miscalculation is now a certainty. Will you say good night to her for me?”
    “You’re really leaving?”
    "Certainly.” She nodded instead of offering her hand. “Have a pleasant evening. Although if that takes finding a woman who’s liberal-minded enough to go home with you after two minutes of conversation, I have my doubts. Good night.”
    She turned on her heel and stalked off, not looking back until she was almost to the stairs.
    By then all she could see of Erik was his retreating back. Dina felt a qualm of remorse. Obviously, his idea of polite behavior would never be acceptable on Fantar, but did she have any right to apply Fantaran standards here on Wakanreo? In any event, she had to explain her premature departure to Arliana.
    She turned to survey the crowd again, looking for any sign of iridescent blue and silver. She didn’t see Arliana, but she noticed the silver-headed Wakanrean had left the Ambassador’s circle and was standing by himself in the middle of the room.
    Dina wasn’t sure, but she thought he was staring at her. She took a few steps toward the stairs, and his eyes followed her so closely there was no doubt that she was the object of his scrutiny.
No, his animosity. He looked angry—furious, in fact. She had never seen a Wakanrean show so much emotion. His eyes gleamed with rage, and his nostrils flared wide. She took another step toward the stairs, and the Wakanrean began to walk rapidly toward her.
    Dina fought panic. What could she have done to make him so angry? She hadn’t come close enough to any Wakanreans to offend anyone. She clasped her hands together to reassure herself that her gloves were on.
    The silver-haired Wakanrean came closer still. Under his cape he wore a long, blue robe instead of the trousers and loose, tunic-style shirt favored by Wakanreans of both sexes. He was very close now. His golden facial and body fur combined with the creamy white of his crest reminded her of some Terran animal, but she couldn’t remember which one. Other than the dark blue trim on his robe and the diamond-shaped pattern that decorated his sandals, his only adornment was a piece of silver jewelry fastened at the base of his throat; she couldn’t tell if it was pinned to his robe or his chest fur.
    Dina could feel herself breathing faster, her heart pounding hard. She should walk away. Why couldn’t she move her feet? She stood waiting by the mezzanine railing, as still as if she had taken root in the floor.
    The Wakanrean stood in front of her. He glared down at her, his face contorted into a scowl, his amber eyes glowing with contempt.
    “I beg your pardon.” Dina tried to keep the quaver out of her voice. “Do I know you?”
    He was so close, she could feel the heat from his body. Either that, or the room had gotten suddenly warmer. Dina felt herself flush from head to foot.
    He didn’t answer, but all at once it was as if his anger was a physical thing, an invisible mass, pushing against her. She stepped backward, stumbled, and almost fell.
    She reached for the mezzanine railing behind her, and in the same instant, the Wakanrean grabbed her arm.
    Dina froze, utterly baffled. The orientation had said clearly that Wakanreans would always avoid touching a Terran, and yet here was one not only touching her, but holding her firmly by the arm and helping her to stand.
    The orientation had also failed to warn her that a Wakanrean’s touch was so warm it almost burned. Dina could feel a flush of heat on her arm where his hand still gripped it. She stood straighter and looked into his face. He had typical Wakanrean features—an arched nose, large round eyes, a wide mouth.
    His expression changed as she watched. His anger faded to confusion. He looked almost stunned. His nostrils still flared, but from the way his eyes had opened wide, Dina knew he was surprised rather than angry.
    Neither of them had taken a step since he took hold of her arm. Dina swallowed once, conscious of discreet glances and overt stares from those around them.
    “I’m all right,” she said finally, wondering if she was speaking the truth. The dizziness had passed, but she still felt lightheaded. “Thank you, but you can let go now.”
    He loosened his grip but didn’t release her for a few seconds. When he did, he brushed her bare arm with the back of his hand. Dina was amazed when it sent shivers of anticipation up her spine.
    “This is unexpected.” His wonderfully resonant voice had a rich, warm timbre to it that made Dina’s shivers change from anticipation to yearning.
    “Yes,” she said, unsure of what he meant, but afraid to give offense.
    “Where do you live?”
    “I have an apartment in the off-world sector,” she said, wondering why she was answering him. She fought the urge to close her eyes and just listen to that wonderful voice.
    “My house is in the cliffs outside the city. Let’s go there instead.”
    “All right.”
    It took Dina a moment to realize that she had agreed to go home with him.

End excerpt

You can buy the Kindle book here; it's temporarily on sale for 99₵ and it's always free in Kindle Unlimited, along with books 2 and 4 in the trilogy. All three books are also available in paperback.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

My review of the Kindle Oasis

Santa,  in the form of my husband,  was good to me this year. I got the new Kindle Oasis for Christmas!

I love this Kindle!  The screen is slightly bigger,  which is nice, especially if you like to read with a larger font. Also, the design accommodates one-handed reading much better than previous Kindles. One side is wider than the other,  and has actual page turn buttons, not like the recessed page turn spots on my Kindle Voyage.  If you're left-handed, you simply flip it over and the buttons are in the left. Mind you it still has a touch screen if you prefer swiping pages to pushing buttons.

It also has Bluetooth, but I haven't used it yet.
Other advantages are that the Oasis is waterproof and it has a warmer light, although I find that a pretty subtle difference.Like the Voyage and the paperwhite, if you buy the cover for it, the Oasis "wakes up" when you open the over. It appears to use exactly the same charging connection as earlier Kindles.

The on-off switch is on on the top edge (assuming right handed buttons). Bt you won't need to use it much unless you're reading without the cover on.

You can't see the button in this view because the camera's light reflected off the metal but it's there. With the cover on and no buttons visible, it's easier to see how close to a square the Oasis is.

All in all, I love my new Kindle! Whether it's enough better than a Paperwhite or the (no longer for sale new, except possibly from 3rd party sellers on Amazon) Voyage to justify the price increase, I can't say, but I'm not giving it back! As usual, I got the 3G connectivity as well as WiFi. All my Kindles have worked great on my home WiFi but there were a few times I could not use hotel Wifi so I always get the 3G. If you're holding a Kindle in your hand and wanting a book, it's a terrible feeling NOT to to be able to get it..

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A new guest blog post, all about ALIEN BONDS!

I have a  guest blog post up on Kayelle Allen's Romance Lives Forever (FRL) blog. The post is about the first book in the Wakanreo trilogy, Alien Bonds and what how I wrote it. Check it out!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

I Have a Book in the 99₵ Fair!

There is currently a  romance online book fair (all sub genres like science fiction romance are included) where every title is 99₵. I have one titles participating, my fantasy novella WHERE MAGIC RULES. Tthe first novel in my Wakanro science fiction romance trilogy ALIEN BONDS is also 99₵ temporarily but it did not make it to the fair in time,  The link for the fair is here.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

SARONNA'S GIFT is now in Kindle Unlimited

As of today.Saronna's Gift is available for free in Kjndle Unlimited. The KU program has been very good to my science fiction romance titles, so I decided to move SG to it.

The story is both a voyage of self discovery and a love story, so I think it will do okay in  KU. Other categories don't seem to do as well as romance, at least not for my books.

Friday, December 20, 2019

More on My Latest Book Promotion

I gave away a bunch of  books during my recent promotion of ALIEN BONDS,  but interesly, this didn't have a lot of impact on sales afterwards. It did, however, noticeably increase my Kindle Unlimited borrows for the Wakanreo trilogy. All three books are still doing better, in fact,

I think this must relate to how sales (in this case, during the promotion) affect what is recommended to customers. I'm thinking that the buying history of anyone who bought my books during the promotion would prompt KU borrowers to see, "People who read this also read. . ." with ALIEN BONDS included on the list. And since the entire trilogy is in KU, all three of them have been doing better.

And with long books like this, I actually make more money on a borrow than a sale. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

My Latest Book Promotion

This one is for other authors, as it's about giving away books. Why would anyone give away their books? Well, if you write in a series, giving away the first book can yield good sales on the sequels.

 I recently made ALIEN BONDS, the first book in the Wakanreao trilogy, free for several days.The free period started on last Thursday, and I paid for a book slot in two mailing services that are free to readers and offer free or cheap ebooks: Book Gorilla and Ereader News Today. The entry for ALIEN BONDS ran in BG on the Friday, and in ENT on the Saturday. Both promotions did reasonably well., with almost identical numbers.

All together I gave away 1,353 Kindle copies of ALIEN BONDS in the 5 days it was free. The first day, before the promo ran, I tweeted and posted in FB about it. That yielded 21 copies given away. The next day the BG promo ran and I gave away 574 copies. Then on Saturday the ENT promo ran and yielded 578 copies. Some of that total could be from the influence of the earlier promo, because on Saturday with no promo I gave away 125 copies. 

By Friday evening, ALIEN BONDS had risen through the rankings to this.

And on Saturday it reached this:

So, being #2 in Kindle science fiction romances probably helped the giveaway, too. There were 55 copies given away on Monday, the last day it was free, and  also 4 copies on Tuesday that snuck in because any Amazon promotion to make the book free ends on Pacific Standard time so there were a few hours that it was still free in some places. 

It was also interesting to see where the copies were going.  Here's the country list:

Pretty  much as expected. Only Canada, the UK and Germany made double digits. It was interesting that Germany beat out English-speaking Australia. 

Now, of course, I have to wait and see how it goes for sales of ALIEN VOWS and ALIEN SKIES, books 2 and 3 of my Wakanreao series.