Countdown – Less than 4 Hours Left!

Depending on where you are in the world, there are less than four hours left until July 1st is here.

Or you could be in Japan where it is already July, but I’m pretty sure regular Amazon doesn’t use that time zone.

Regardless, I wanted to take the time to remind you all that an awesome collection of free and discounted books is just around the corner.

Remember! 40 Authors! 75 Books!

It will all be waiting for you at events.supportindieauthors.com

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The Countdown – Less 48 Hours Left

 

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Credit to Charles for the Awesome Pic

 

That’s right! There are less 48 Hours left till the event starts.

40 Authors! 75 Books! It will all be waiting for you at http://events.supportindieauthors.com/ 

You can even take the opportunity to check the profiles of the participating authors right now.

Remember! It’s four days of free and discounted book starting July 1st.

Don’t miss it!

Special Announcement – Promos Are Good

I have talked about free promos a couple of times at least. They are a good way of getting your book out there and into the reader’s hands. Some people are skeptic about giving their book away for free because they feel they are losing money. However consider this, most people who download your book for free most likely weren’t going to buy it any other way. Now that they’ve been lured in by the promise of a free book, you have the opportunity to blow them away with your writing. If they really like it, they’ll keep coming back for more.

You know how drug sellers give you the first one for free? Yeah, it works like that.

That said, there are limits to the efforts of a single person. Sure, you are going to let everyone on your Twitter and Facebook know about your free-for-a-limited-time book, but we only have so many followers. To reach a wider audience consider teaming up with other authors. There are plenty of indie authors out there who are in the same boat as you.

That’s what I am going to be doing this week.

That’s right, I have teamed up with other authors to bring to you four days of free and bargain books!

Together we are able to cast a wider net and we plan on taking full advantage of that. Each one of us is going to promote the event on our blogs and social media like I am doing right now. That’s right. This time, you get an on-topic post that’s also shameless self-promotion. Bet you weren’t expecting that!

Remember, the event starts July 1st and keeps going until the 4th. What better way to spend a long weekend than reading great free books!

Keep an eye on this website: http://events.supportindieauthors.com/

Remembering the Basics

Lately, I have been writing a lot about ads.

However, it is important to note that ads and all other promotional stuff are extras. Important extras, but extras all the same. In the end, it is all about the writing. You want your writing to get noticed? Here is the easiest way.

Write more.

I’m not even joking. The more books you have out there, the greater the odds of someone stumbling upon one of them. Additionally, if you are writing a series of books, then having more than two out shows commitment.

No one wants to start a book series that may never be finished.

*stares meaningfully at A Song of Ice and Fire*

Plenty of indy writers have plans for trilogies and other similar -ies. That’s not really a bad call at all. There is a reason why Hollywood loves its sequels. They make money. You can even afford to make the first book free because if someone really liked the first book, chances are they are going to buy the second one and then the next one and the next one after that and so on.

However, starting a book is a commitment for the reader. You need to show your readers you are also committed to writing and you do that by putting more books out. That’s really important to remember.

On that note, I am pleased to inform you all that the sequel to The Sleeping Town is well on its way. As I write this the first draft is more than halfway done. I’ll probably have it finished by mid-July.

Speaking of July, be on the lookout for an important announcement. Trust, you’ll like it.

Amazon Ads Part IV

Let’s talk about Product Display Ads!

Product Display Ads are one of the two types of ads you can make with Amazon. All those ads that appear on the side of the page when you are looking at an Amazon Page? Yeah, that’s them.

Unless you have your Ad Blocker turned on (like me), then you have seen tons of Product Display Ads all over Amazon. Check out any book page on Amazon. You will usually see ads for other books there.

That’s what we are creating this time.

The first thing Amazon will ask you is how do you want to target your ad. It will give you two choices. One of them is to let Amazon take care of that no doubt using its fancy algorithms and stuff.

Don’t pick that choice.

Why? Because the other choice lets you pick exactly what products you want to target. You want your ad to show up for people checking out Harry Potter books? Yep, you can do that. Just enter the name of the product manually and add it. This allows you a lot of control over who will see your ad and that’s a good thing.

No one knows what your book is about better than you. In order to make the best use of this type of ad, you have to target the products that have the readers you are looking for, people who are fans of the same genre.

My book, Devils of Black and Gold, is Urban Fantasy. My initial plan was to target all the Top 100 books in that category.

Then I realized the Urban Fantasy Category might as well be the Fantasy Romance Category as far as Amazon’s Best Sellers are concerned. So yeah, that plan needed some tweaking.

So instead, I googled, “Books like Dresden Files.” I am not sure if I have said it, but I like the series and consider it something of an inspiration. Anyway, that search turned out way more fruitful. I found a forum where people recommended plenty of books they felt were similar.

I added as many as I could. Then a misclick cost me my entire list and ad, and I learned a very important lesson.

Always save as a draft. Remember that one, people.

Anyway, I re-did my ad all over again and got to the next stage: Budget.

Unlike Sponsored Content, you don’t set a daily budget. You set a campaign budget and the minimum one is a hundred dollars.

Now, before any of you get scared, keep in mind that you’re likely not going to spend that much money in a day, a week, or even a month. You only pay for clicks and one or two thousand impressions per 1 click is a pretty accurate picture sadly.

Basically, if you do use up your hundred dollars, it’s going to be over quite a few months at the very least.

After setting the budget, all that was left was deciding on a time frame (4 months), setting the CPC, and writing the ad. The recommended CPC was higher than the one I use for my other ad. However, I went with it. As annoying as it sounds, I have noticed that if you aren’t within the recommended margin, your ad gets very few impressions. Everyone else is bidding higher.

Surprisingly, writing the ad provided a few problems, mainly the headline.

When it comes to ads, writing a catchy headline is a must. I didn’t really need one for my Sponsored Product Ad, but this was different. The first headline I wrote was a standard, “Get it now!” It took me about one day after my ad got approved to acknowledge it was a bad headline so I decided to change it.

Important thing to note here, while you can edit just about every part of your ad after it gets aproved, the actual contect of the ad is a different thing entirely. If you want to change that you have to create another ad which is what I did.

To get some inspiration, I turned off my ad-blocker and went from book page to book page looking at all other book ads. Some were pretty bad. Others were nice.

Anyway, I switched to a better ad and it obviously worked because I got a click right away.

Let that be the lesson this time, write a catchy headline. It helps a lot.

Amazon Ads Part III – The Law of Diminishing Returns

As I have talked about in past posts, I have an ad running on Amazon. At the beginning, the number of impressions I got per day was low so I upped the CPC and added some keywords. That seemed to work. At least for a while.

Lately, the number of impressions my ad gets seems to be slowing down. It’s still a respectable amount, but after passing the 3,000 mark, the number of impressions per day seems to have slowed down.

I could up the CPC again but I really don’t feel like it. I don’t feel like that is the smartest choice here. The only thing I can do for the ad right now is leave like it is. Maybe try some new keywords but nothing more.

Plenty of people have told me that ads work best over long periods of time. The ad is still running . It shows up for people. I should let it do its job and not try to rush things.

However, that’s only talking about things I can do for this particular ad.

I also have the option of starting a new ad that runs alongside this one. I talked about it in my first post on Amazon ads, didn’t I? There are two types of ads. Product Display Ads and Sponsored Product Ads. The Ad I have running belongs to the latter type.

I think it is time I try Product Display Ads.

The results: Next time!

Amazon Ads – Part II

Last time we talked about ads.

I had created a Sponsored Product ad. The CPC (cost-per-click) was set at 10 cents and the daily budget was 3 dollars.

It took about a day for the ad to be approved.

Right away, I knew it wasn’t going to work out.

After one day, the total number of impressions (the number of times someone had seen my ad) were less than 50. A positive person may think, “Fifty persons saw my ad. That’s great!” However, we know it isn’t remotely that easy.

While looking around online, I had discovered there were people with over a thousand impressions that hadn’t gotten a click. At a rate of fifty impressions per day, I was going to need at least 20 days to get a single click. It was clear my ad wasn’t going to work like that. I needed more impressions per day.

So I upped the CPC to 25 cents.

The results were noticeable right away. Before the first day was done, I had doubled the number of impressions. I even got a click. Two days later, the number of impressions my ad had gotten jumped over the thousand mark.

All in all, the change was a success.

I added a couple more keywords later on. A few of them worked really well. Others were disappointing so I put them on pause. I believe there is still more fine-tuning to do and really that’s the point of this post.

Don’t just make an ad and leave it there. Creating your own ads gives you the power to change them. Take advantage of that. Find out what works. Find out what doesn’t. Then keep improving that ad.

Amazon Ads – What you need to know

As you may or may not know, I have one of my books in KDP Select. The program comes with all sorts of neat bonuses at the expense of being Amazon Exclusive.

Free Book Promotions are something I have taken advantage of many times in the past, but there is one button I always hesitated about.

The Promote and Advertise button.

Unlike all the other stuff, that one isn’t exactly free. That said, it is not exactly expensive. Let me explain: With ads, you’re paying per click.

What does that mean?

It means your ad can be shown a thousand times and you’ll only pay for the times someone clicks on it. Chances are it’ll take at least a few hundred times for you to get a click. Just think about it. Remember all those times you clicked on an interesting ad?

Yeah, me neither.

However, it is a way of letting people know your book is out there. Ultimately , I decided to go for it. Here’s what I learned.

First of all, you need to know one thing. Once you click that button, you’re going to get two options for the type of ad you want: a Sponsored Product Ad or a Product Display Ad.

Now, from what I have looked on the web, most people use the latter type. Being a natural contrarian, I used the former. I may do a post on Product Display Ads in the future, but not right now.

Back on topic, the first thing you’ll need to do is set up a Daily Budget. Remember how I said you’re paying per click? Let’s say you set up a 1 dollar limit and you are charged 10 cents per click. That means the maximum amount of clicks you can get in a day is 10.

It’s a way of protecting your wallet. Think carefully about what you want your budget to be.

Next up, the length of time your ad will run, the duration. You can set a date range or you can just have it running indefinitely. Note that Amazon will cancel ads that aren’t doing well regardless.

The third and most important step is selecting the Cost-Per-Click. Basically, the moment Amazon loads a page, their program starts running a bid between the various people who have paid to have their ads on Amazon. The Cost-per-Click is the maximum amount you are willing to bid for placement.

Basically, if you set it at 15 cents, you will never bid more than 15 cents. Keep in mind this affects how much your ad is shown. Ads with a higher CPC will show up with greater frequency.

You will then select Keywords. Your ad will show up to the people searching for these specific keywords. Amazon will give you a list of keywords but you can type in your own.

After that, it’s just a matter of creating a good line for the ad, a catchy summary of your book in this case. Select your payment method and your add is ready to roll. Well, it’ll take a day or three for Amazon to approve your ad but chance are they will.

In my case, I set my daily budget at 3 dollars and the CPC at 10 cents.

The result, Next time! 

If a Tree falls and no one hears It…

Hi, everyone!

It has been a long time since I posted something here. Regrettably, life decided to hit me much like puberty did once, like a brick.  Yeah, it hasn’t been a fun couple of months. Sadly, that meant little writing time.

At the beginning of the year, I had planned to have the draft for my third book done by the end of February with plans to publish it on May. May is almost over and my first draft is only 10,000 words long.

Yeah, stuff happened.

Regardless, let’s get to the real point of this post. A bit over a month ago, I decided it was time to return to my usual rhythm and what better way to do it than with a Free Book Promotion. I had it all planned out and was ready for the day when… stuff happened.

As a consequence, I was unable to oversee it. I didn’t even get the chance to promote it in social media.

When the dust settled and I was able to sit in front of my computer again, I looked at the numbers.

They were amazing for all the wrong reasons.

It was the lowest number of downloads I had ever gotten out of a Free Book Promotion. I couldn’t believe it. Then I started thinking it through and couldn’t not believe it.

After all, it wasn’t like I had done anything to let people know about that promotion. I hadn’t gone to all the usual places where I would normally post information about it. I hadn’t been able to.

What other result could there be?

So yeah, let that be a lesson for all of you.

Internet presence, being other there to let people know your book exists, that’s insanely important in the world of self-publishing and don’t ever forget it. You can’t ever make the assumption that people will know your book is there.

Next Time: Amazon Ads!

About Grammarly and the Importance of Good Editing

Want to know one of the biggest downsides of Independent Publishing?

No Free Editors

There is no one who will automatically provide you with proofreading and editing services. You have to pay out of your own pocket for those.

Now, let’s be honest, traditionally published books can and do have spelling mistakes sometimes. Once I found one while reading a book of the Dresden Files. It surprised me quite a bit at the time.

However, as indie authors, we are under double the pressure to make sure there are no tiny mistakes ruining the reading experience. There is nothing quite like a spelling mistake to ruin a reader’s immersion.

I thought I was doing a good job on that front.

Keyword: Thought.

Let’s take it from the beginning.

A while back I learned about Grammarly, a program that checks, you guessed it, grammar. There is a paid version, but it also offers a free extension for Chrome. It’s not the full version but it checks for most misspellings. I wasn’t sure about it so I refrained from using it.

Then I got some feedback about having some spelling mistakes in my books and not just from one person.

I added the Grammarly Extension the same day and ran my book through it.

The results were embarrassing. Grammarly found one or two big mistakes per chapter.

I wanted to make like an ostrich and bury my face in the ground. Mistakes per chapter. That’s the quality of the product I was offering.

That couldn’t stay like that. I immediately fixed the mistakes Grammarly found.

Then I started reading it again, this time not as a Word File as I usually do, but using Kindle. I literally highlighted the sentences word for word as I went over my e-book.

Did it take a long time? Yes.

Did I find more mistakes? You bet. Fixed them all too. The result was a better book.

Advantage of being an Indie Author #1: It’s not the higher earning percentage per book. It’s that you get to update your book file whenever you want.

Anyway, I learned that Grammarly can’t replace a person entirely, but it is a damn good aid. Also, if you’re like me and use Word to write, consider reading it completely using an e-reader at least once. Gives you a different perspective.

However, I am starting to think there is really no substitute for an extra set of eyes… even if you have to pay for them.