Wednesday, February 29, 2012

#BuyIndieMonth is coming to a close. It's the end of the month and I have just added my last selection to my February list of books by independent authors. Does this mean I stop acquiring books by other indie authors? Of course not! This month has served to remind me that every download, every like, every tag, and every review is important to my fellow indie writers, just as it is to me. So now the fun begins...I promise to read every book on my list and leave positive, honest reviews for my fellow writers, so stay tuned!
If you want to see my #BuyIndieMonth selections, you can find them here=> Buying Indie Month
Below you can find links to the lists of other writers and #BuyIndie who have posted their reading selections as well:

Benjamin X. Wretlind
Michael K. Rose
Carmen DeSousa
Clive S. Johnson
Hobbes End Publishing

If you have posted a list and would like me to include it, just let me know. Happy reading, all!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

KDP Select Free Days Part 2: Or My Sloppy Attempt To Make Sense Of It All

Ok so here it is... After weeks of intense research, hours of reading  blog posts until my reading glasses fogged over, laboring over charts and graphs worthy of CSI, I am happy to announce I have found the magic formula for success using the KDP "free" promo!! Ok, I exaggerate a bit. Not to say that a "magic" formula doesn't exist out there somewhere, but much like the Road to El Dorado, remains somewhat elusive. If I am to be truthful, there is one thing that emerged  from my "research" above all else,and it's how varied the experiences have been thus far.  This post is my meager attempt to make sense of it all, sort through others' experiences and try to find the answers to some questions I have as my next 3 day "free" promotion of JUDGMENT TRAMP approaches (2/21-2/23 in case you were wondering :)
So in my attempt to gather all the various threads of thought on the KDP Select's free book promo, there were certain questions I wanted answered. I'll try to go through them one at a time and summarize what I've learned, citing other authors and blogs along the way. Many good folks have reported on their experiences and far more coherently than I , so I encourage you to check them out.
1) Obviously the number one question: Was it a positive or a negative experience for most people? I can say for certain,with few exceptions, that among the writers who have posted about their experiences, most were happy that that they participated, some ecstatic even. Results range from barely lukewarm (see Red Mojo Mama(Kathy Lyn Hall) to approaching "KDP saved my book" and "beyond wildest dreams" territory. (See John Betcher, Rob Blackwell, Ellis Vidler, David Kazzie, David Wisehart). Positives far outweigh the negatives in reports by participating authors. Of course, I suppose there is that possibility that only those with success stories to share are sharing, but from reports it would appear that KDP Select has been a boon for many. The immediate results have made a lot of people happy, but still there is a long term, wider impact that is still unknown, and for some the jury is definitely still out. (See Derek Haines and R. S. Guthrie's post/discussions)
2) How many days should a promotion run in order to gain the most, and which days are the best? Most seem to agree that a promotion needs to run a minimum of 2 days for the book to gain momentum.  One exception was Colette whose letter was posted on Ashley Barron's blog. She felt grouping the free days together  was "a waste" and felt it more beneficial to spread them out for advertising and exposure of your book.  In general though, one day just doesn't give enough time to gain the downloads needed to propel a book into the bestseller lists. As Katie M. John says in her excellent post, "It would seem (from very early analysis) that it is better to block the promo days together. Allowing more time for the book to travel up the freebie charts gets it far more visual coverage on the Amazon sites" 
 As for what days seem the best? No clear consensus, however Pixel of Ink warns against the first of the month as there is a glut of free books offered on those days. What seems to make the most sense to me is to offer your book for free during the week. People who get lots of sales report most of them happen over the weekend. Therefore, wouldn't the best strategy possibly be to offer the book for free during lower sales days and watch it soar into the best seller ranks, where it will be ready to attract sales on the weekend when more people are looking to buy books? (Hint: I am going with this strategy this week, will let you know)
3) Does having more than one book published make a difference? As I mentioned in my post, My Results With KDP Select's Free Days Part 1  one of the reasons I elected to try the KDP Select program was because I had just published my first book on Amazon and felt I had nothing to lose. Worst case scenario, I figured, my book would gain some exposure, maybe pick up a few readers, and of course, those all important reviews. I still think it was a good decision for me. Obviously, if you have more than one book, and you are published elsewhere, other factors  need to be considered. In terms of gaining the most success possible, and by that I mean the whole shebang-exposure, readers, ranking,sales,reviews- it is infinitely better to have published more than one or two books.  In general, it seems that writers who had an expectation that their other non-promotional books  would see increased sales were not disappointed. Katie M. John reported, "Around 40% of the giveaway copies translated into #2 sales."  This was especially true with books in a series. Pushing one book up the ranks gives more opportunity for readers to find you and your other books. Makes perfect sense. However, once again, this theory is challenged by exceptions. as David Kazzie and Rob Blackwell have both demonstrated. Both have only one book published on Amazon and enjoyed incredible success with the promotion.
4) How were sales after the free promotion ended? This is a little bit of a mixed bag. Initially sales improved for most, while some saw sales plummet. Some like Cheryl Tardif have continued to see an increase in a book's sales. "My thriller THE RIVER is selling more per day than it was per month. My daily average has slowly been INcreasing, not decreasing as I thought it would, even weeks after my free promo ended."  Diane Rapp ( just reported today on a World Literary CafĂ© Chat forum that before her free days she was "lucky to get one sale a day and now I'm averaging 40 plus some Borrows."  Again, no hard and fast rules here. Genre matters, reviews matter, luck matters... but, in general, the free days affected post-sales in a positive way,  even if slightly. However, if you were like me, and had 1 review, no platform, no exposure on Amazon, and were essentially clueless at the time of your promotion, then it was less likely your sales would continue to improve after the promotion ended. I feel less clueless this time around, time will tell if I actually am.
5) And what about those borrows? I have to admit to being utterly mystified by this. One of the surprising things to me is the number of borrows that are made by Amazon Prime members  of the lower-priced books. Don't get me wrong this is great news  for indie authors participating in the KDP Select program. After all, with every borrow, you get a slice of the Prime pie. I believe for Feb. the royalty for each borrowed book is $1.60. Maybe it's me, but I never expected my $2.99 book to get borrowed. It would be nice (none to date), but I expected Prime members would use their once-a-month free "borrow" on the higher priced e-books. I mean if you have only one free borrow a month... If anyone understands this, I'd love to hear the explanation, but the fact remains many writers have seen borrows increase along with sales. 
6) One of the biggest questions as a newbie to the whole internet self-marketing thing was, what kind of advertising should I do? How do i promote my book during the free days? I am confessing here and now, I feel  as if i was an infant to the whole social media, twitter, facebook thing in December, and I only feel like a  toddler a couple months later. I am slowly getting my feet wet. I think I'm catching on to expanding my network with Twitter(and finding it kind of fun). I'm branching out into other places with a friend who is much more savvy in these things than I. I know that the more i'm out there promoting my book, building my community, and gaining exposure, the better, but it is slow going for me. This is another blog post because I am in total awe of those of you who seem to have your toe in everything and STILL write. The short of it is, I feel I am in a better spot this promotion than last, but recognize I have a long way to go. I will keep plugging away and learning from the more experienced Indie writers out there! For today, I'll share a few resources I've found. I know this is a very short list. Feel free to add on in the comments! 
 Karen Baney has a very good post with some tips to follow and Jeff Bennington is about to release his ebook The Indie Author's Guide To the Universe in which he reveals his successful methods for indie authors. He has blogged to great extent as well. I do plan on investing in this book when it's released later this month. 

This was taken from  Kindleboards
  to consider notifying in advance of your promotion:
Pixel of Ink - they have an onsite form specifically for freebie notices
Ereader News Today - use the admin addie on their Contact page
Kindle on the Cheap - email form onsite
Free Kindle Books and Tips - email Michael: kindle at gagler dot com. (You can also post on the facebook wall for free)
You can also announce the freebie at Authors on the Cheap on Facebook on the days it's free in addition to sending the notice to Kindle on the Cheap.

There are many more sites like this popping up, but, aside from Pixel of ink,  i'm not sure how many  of these have made a difference. 
Well, as I wrap this up, my thriller, JUDGMENT TRAMP, is poised begin a 3 day free promotion in the Kindle Store. This time I have some reviews, I've sort of figured the twitter thing out and have the promotion listed on several FB sites, threw a little Pixie dust around my computer, and I'm good to go...  It's free 2/21-2/23 by the way..if you're so inclined.. 

*Update Wow, as I got further along writing this, I realized what a wealth of information has been shared by other authors out there. I couldn't possibly include everyone and I know i missed many of you. Instead of listing everyone's blogs here, i've decide to add a page. I'll start putting that up in a day or two. I think everyone's thoughts on KDP Select gathered in one place would be very helpful. Feel free to add your post or one you found helpful to the comments anytime! 
**Please go to my "Gathering of KDP Select Experiences" page for additional reports and updates by authors who have enrolled in KDP Select.

** By the way, my book has been free for approximately 19 hours as of this writing, and I've doubled my average hourly download from last time, and will most likely go beyond my 2 day total for my first KDP promotion in Dec. by the end of the day.  I am currently ranked #89 in Mysteries & Thrillers! (Insert fist bump,here.). I never broke into a top 100 last time so, so far, so good for this old toddler. Stay tuned! 8^D

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Buying Indie Month"-I'm In!

While working on making some sense of KDP Select free book promo results, I decided to take a break to post links to these 2 blogposts by Benjamin X Wretlind and Michael K Rose, in support of "Buying Indie Month", an idea spawned by Benjamin Wretlind. I am a firm believer in "paying it forward" and, especially in regard to Indie authors, I believe that supporting each other's success is the key to the future of indie publishing. When we, as a community of indie writers support each other, we become stronger, and hopefully success will breed success within our community. After all, as Zig Ziglar says, "You will get everything in life that you want, if you help enough other people get what they want." So, having waxed philosophical, the bottom line is, I will be buying an ebook per day from an indie author throughout the month of Feb. (I promise to read every one eventually, but they will go in the Kindle "queue". I have quite a few both paid and free from last month to get read yet.) I'm actually looking forward to it! There are a few on my TBR list already, so they go first. I'll update my Buy Indie Month page each day. Let the fun begin! Who else is in?

Go to my BUY INDIE MONTH for a complete day by day listing and links to my chosen selections.

Please check these other related blog posts out for more information:

Buying Indie Month, Revisited by Benjamin X. Wretlind

By the way, if you try to comment and are not able to, could you shoot me a quick email at or message me on Twitter @jdcurriewriter? I've had a few people tell me they tried to post but couldn't, so I'm trying to solve this problem.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Results With KDP Select's Free Days Part 1

I've spent the last week perusing blogs to see what other self published authors have reported on their results from the KDP Select program. As I wrote back in December, right after I'd published my debut novel, Judgment Tramp, on Amazon, I decided to give it a try and enroll Judgment Tramp in the program. I'd heard about KDP Select as my hand was literally poised to upload to Smashwords. Although I understood the reluctance of some to give over exclusivity to Amazon, I decided to hold off putting the book on any other sites to give this a try. My reasoning was that a) I am essentially a total novice to the ePub world. Although I self published Judgment Tramp and sold print copies of the book, I am essentially a brand new indie author with little or no following, b) I could take advantage of the 5 days for "selling" my book for free. With the program, you can schedule the days you want the promotion to run and they can be used any way you like.  I felt I could use those days to gain exposure and jumpstart getting my book out there, and c) I basically had nothing to lose. 

So today I will share with you my results and in Part 2 of this post I'll summarize what I've learned from my experience and what I've gleaned from taking a look at other people's results.  However, before I give you my results, I think it's important to point out a few things.  First, I had published my book a mere week prior to enrolling. Second, I had done very little marketing of the book prior to publishing. I realize this is not the way to do it, but I am a confessed social media neophyte. At that point I had only been on Twitter for a short time and rarely visited my Facebook page.( ok, ok. No need to make that face). My blog had been up and running only 2 months. Obviously on the far,far newbie end of the self marketing curve... I did Tweet quite a bit about the promotion the day before and throughout the 2 days I held the promotion as well as posted on my FB page, but in retrospect I should have done much, much more of this.
I decided to run a 2 day promotion on Dec. 26, and Dec. 27 ( a Monday and Tuesday) hoping that right after Christmas all those new Kindle owners would be trolling for free books. I had absolutely no idea what would happen. I kept my expectations low. I needed exposure and was hoping I would at least get some reviews out of it. The minute it became free I started to get downloads. I averaged about 10 per hour and that was pretty steady throughout the promotion. In the end I had 400 US DLs, 64 UK, and 4 Germany. As soon as the promotion ended, DLs promptly stopped. I had no borrows, but would have been surprised if I had. Now I realize these numbers are nothing compared to many of the writers whose blogs I have been reading, but considering I had marketed very little right before( something I will absolutely increase next time), and had been on Amazon a few short weeks, I was pleased.  468 people who now have Judgment Tramp somewhere in their Kindle queue. Surely a percentage of those will actually read the book, and at least a few of them will post reviews. This remains to be seen, but that's my hope. I have had one new glowing review since the promotion but I have no way of knowing if this came from a "freebie" reader. 
Unfortunately, since the promotion ended I have sold only a handful of books. But again, although I would be doing cartwheels ( a sight to behold , let me tell you) if I had suddenly starting selling hundreds of copies of my book after the promotion, I hadn't really expected that, and my primary goal as a new author in the Kindle Store was to gain some exposure and,hopefully, reviews. I still have 3 promotion days left. Later this week I'll summarize what I think I've learned since I did the first promotion and what I've gleaned from the experiences of others.
In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you. Have you tried KDP select? What are your thoughts? Results? Anybody else out there who is as new to this adventure as me and has experimented with KDP Select? I haven't read very many reports from novice indie writers like myself and this would be interesting to me.