Thursday, May 31, 2012

Freedom Isn't Free

Judgment Tramp is a book about the hunt for a killer, but it's also about a soldier's attempt to return to civilian life. Sure, the book is categorized as a mystery/thriller, but I think of it as more of a psychological thriller than anything else. 

The protagonist, Eb Maclean, is just a guy who's trying to get his life back together. He isn't necessarily looking for trouble;but trouble seems to find him quite easily. A lot of his problems are inside of him, because, try as he might, he can't seem to leave the army in the past. His experience is troubling and it leads him to react to the events around him in specific ways.

Eb isn't a superhero. He isn't a Hollywood creation, and he isn't bigger than life. He's flawed, and sometimes he isn't even a nice person. He can be stuffy, judgmental, and even a bit of a bigot. He's angry. He's confused. And most of all, he's human, with all of the wonderful qualities and limitations of the species. He isn't Rambo--he's just a guy who answered the call to do a dirty, messy job that most people wouldn't do, and he will never fully recover from it.

Eb isn't special.

I write that as a matter of truth because Eb is a creation of mine, but in reality he is no different than any other soldier, past or present. None of our soldiers go to Iraq and Afghanistan (or Omaha Beach, or Gettysburg, or Monmouth Courthouse) and come back whole. They leave a little piece of themselves behind. They sometimes come home with problems like PTSD. We don't do enough for them--we should take better care of our people who give so much to us.

Eb is one of those people. He is not special--he is typical of the type of people who serve our nation. And I have no problem calling him a hero.

Like all of our military people, Eb didn't just pay the price for his service--he paid for all of us.

I hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day holiday weekend. Please be safe, and remember to take a few moments to thank our servicemen and women for their sacrifice on our behalf. Eb Maclean is in good company.


In honor of Memorial Day, JUDGMENT TRAMP (an Eb Maclean Novel) will be free :May 26 & 27 on Amazon.



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

KDP Select Free Days: 3rd Time's the Charm

It has been over 3 weeks since I ran my last KDP Select free promo for my thriller, Judgment Tramp. And, although, I was never unhappy with my results the first 2 times, (I figured any exposure was good exposure),I had never reached anywhere near the success of some of the authors who were kind enough to allow me to share their experiences on this blog.


But, you guessed it, this last promo blew the roof off the previous two.


Before I get into why I think this happened, let me give you some numbers. We all like numbers, don't we?


1st promo Dec. 26 & 27 (Mon. & Tues)--fresh out of the box, no platform, barely on twitter or other social media sites; in other words-I was clueless.
---Sales prior to promo: 2 No borrows (what are those?)
---Downloads: 400 US; 64 UK; 4 DE Total= 468 ;
(Averaged about 8-10 DL's /hour & they were fairly consistent; Highest ranking: #1431 in free)
--Post-promo sales: Sales did not happen. Book plummeted back to where it had been prior to the promo. I had only 2 sales the whole month of January.
 --Attitude: Still hopeful. Learning experience. Hoping for a few reviews.

2nd Promo Feb. 21-23 (Wed-Fri)--I considered myself to be a toddler more than a baby, at this point. I was active on twitter, blog up and running, but still working on adding other areas of marketing and social media activity-Reading, reading reading what others have shared.
--Sales prior to promo: 2 in Jan., 6 in Feb. before promo. No borrows ( and seriously not expecting any)
--Downloads: 693 US; 67 UK; 11 DE; 1 FR Total=772;
(Averaged 20 Dls/hour the first day, decreased to about 10/hour second day until late afternoon on second day, wherein I started to see a downward trend in DL's. By 3rd day the book was getting maybe 5 an hour. At this point, ranking started the plunge despite having over 24 hours left AND having broke into top 100 in Mystery/Thrillers. Highest ranking reached: #510 in free, and #68 in Mystery/Thrillers.
---Post-promo sales: About 20 in the first week or so following the promo and then sales were trickling in every once in a while up until the 3rd promo. Not great, but, then again, better than prior to the promo.
Attitude: Hopeful. Learning experience. Disappointed that DLs seemed to hit a wall and decline suddenly before end of promo so the book's rank also declined but still more successful than first attempt.

3rd Promo: April 25,26 (Wed, Thurs.)--Added social media sites like Goodreads, and more reviews. I have toddling along and learning a little bit more about this online selfpub/marketing monster. Read, read, reading what everyone else is doing.
--Sales prior to promo: 14 in March, 7 in April prior to promo. No borrows.(Again, not expecting any)
--Downloads...wait for it... 8480 US;119 UK;7 FR;5 DE;1 ES; Total= 8612!
Wow.  
Over 10x the DLs of the last promo which ran 1 day longer. Ok, so bear with me, because I don't mind saying, it was exciting. Instead of counting DLs by the hour, I began to count them by the minute! My hope had been to double what I'd done in Feb. and I far exceeded that. By afternoon of first day , JT had already been downloaded more than in all 3 days of the Feb. promo. That evening, at one point, I realized over 800 had been downloaded in an hour!  I climbed to the top 5 of my 2 niche categories-Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue, and Police Procedurals- fairly quickly(sometime the  first morning), and by afternoon broke the top 100 in Mysteries/Thrillers. I stayed in the top 100 of all of these lists all the way through to the end of the promo. I reached #1 in Spy & #2 in Police, #11 in Mysteries/Thrillers. By evening I was in top 100 of the Free Bestsellers! I saw my book sitting there on the free lists next to heavy hitters like John Grisham, Vince Flynn, Ken Follett, and Jeffrey Archer, and so did readers-can't be anything bad in that! Early on I even fleetingly hit the Popular list. I even ended up on the bestseller lists in the UK.
My fear had been that JT would repeat what happened in Feb., when 3/4's of the way through the promo., the ranking started to slip. When the promo ended the book was no longer on a bestseller list, which I believe was the reason sales never really took off, even for the short period of time others had reported. I wanted badly to end in the top 100 and this time I was not disappointed.
--Post-promo sales: Ok, so that was exciting, but what would happen after the dust cleared and my little book was out there on it's own without 'Free' to help it along?
When I woke up that morning and looked at the ranking my heart about fell out of my chest-- #388,000 seriously? 
Ok, while I was picking myself up off the floor, somehow it had climbed back up to 4 digits. Those Amazon algorithmists, what a bunch of pranksters....
It didn't stay there, of course, but the book has enjoyed steady sales since it went back to paid. The first few days, just as so many have reported, were the best: Day 1:14 books, Day 2: 21  Day 3: 28 and 2 borrows (my first!); Day 4:19 and 5 borrows. The book even managed to stay in the top 100 in Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue for 5 more days, which was totally unexpected, and probably helped somewhat. I've even had borrows which continues to amaze me. I won't bore you with more details, but sales and ranking have slowly decreased, but not unexpectedly. However, over 3 weeks later, sales are still happening at a steady pace of 1-3 a day. Not amazing, but considering sales prior to this promo were more like 1-2 a week, I am still very pleased. ( I have seen only 1 UK sale by the way. International Sales is an area that needs exploring.)
--Attitude: Hopeful. I see more possibilities now. It's all a learning experience right?


SO what made the difference?

1. Categories- I switched JT over to less populated niche categories after reading Ben Wretlind's analysis of categories on his blog here. This made it supremely easier to climb into the top 100 on the bestseller list.
2. Help- I asked my twitter buddies to retweet me. I mean I specifically messaged and asked other authors with whom I felt comfortable because we had a mutual helping relationship already established; and true to form, my fellow indies jumped right in there. In fact, I really do attribute the very quick rise in sales to their early tweeting and if you are one of those authors, I can't thank you enough for your help. At one point a twitter bot picked up that my twitter handle was the #5 twitter name on Twitter.(yes, that was 4 twitters in a sentence!). I have no idea how long that brief flash of social media fame lasted (I was right behind MSNBC) but I'm sure it gave JT the early boost at a critical time. I also joined tweet teams at WLC which I like to do as often as I can anyway.
3.Exposure- Although I had submitted to Pixel of Ink (again), Ereader News Today, Digital Book Today, I was apparently too late and never got picked up (again). However, I had posted on many facebook sites, (actually I didn't have time to post on even half of the sites I had found), and some minor ebook sites. I sent an invitation out on Goodreads. and I posted on the Kindle Boards. I did not realize until sometime after that I had popped up in a couple places unexpectedly. I have an extensive list that hopefully I'll be able to share at some point, but I worked on doubling my exposure. I employed a friend to help me with this part, by the way. It is time consuming, but key. I believe downloads slowed so quickly during the previous promo because I had reached the limits of my platform at that point.
4. Luck and the old Success Begets Success thing- I really think with some of this the stars have to align. I think that in my case, things fell into place this time. Also, when you hit those Bestseller lists, the ball really starts rolling.  Downloads beget downloads. I'm not sure if it would happen this way again. There are rumors that the KDP Select magic is wearing off and others are not getting the great results they got before. Recently bloggers have reported Amazon algorithms have changed, and not favorably for the Select books. Perhaps. But for me the 3rd time was the charm. I plan on doing another free day soon. I'm hoping it will goose sales a bit and keep Judgment Tramp floating where it is- way above the pre-promo ranking and sales.


**Oh,and one other thing, I decided to change the pricing for the book to $.99 after about 7-8 days, when I thought the book's ranking was slipping, to see if it would help keep it from plummeting. I saw absolutely NO difference. The sales stayed steadily the same and there were no borrows during that time period of 2 days. It simply wasn't worth losing the $1.65 per book, so I probably will not do that again, and certainly not as a means to jump start sales.


So, now the question is, how to maintain decent sales after a successful KDP Select Free Book promo? What has everyone else been doing?


Read other authors' experiences on my page "A Gathering of KDP Select Experiences".





Monday, May 21, 2012

Announcing New Release: Sullivan’s War: Book III - Edaline’s Dawn

At the beginning of April, I interviewed author Michael K. Rose shortly after his release of Book 2 of the amazing scifi series, Sullivan's War. I am pleased to be able to announce on this blog that Book 3 of the series is now available as well. Read about Book III: Edaline's Dawn below and check out my interview with Mr. Rose here.


With the release of All Good Men Serve the Devil, the first book of the series Sullivan’s War, Michael K. Rose began science fiction readers on an adventure that would span the galaxy as Rick Sullivan, Frank Allen and Kate Alexander came up against ruthless gang leaders, assassins, bounty hunters and highly-trained soldiers from Edaline, Sullivan’s home planet.

Now, with Book III - Edaline’s Dawn, all that Rick Sullivan has worked for comes to a head. In this action-packed finale to the series, Sullivan finally returns to Edaline to overthrow the planet's oppressive regime. Will he be able to help organize a new uprising against the government? How do the mysterious hyperspace entities figure into Sullivan’s future? And what will be the fate of Frank Allen?

Find out in Sullivan's War: Book III - Edaline's Dawn!

Praise for the series:

"Gritty, hardcore sci-fi with a fascinating twist, guaranteed to please!"
"A sci-fi thriller laced with action and political undertones. A Must Read!"
"Mr. Rose knocks another one out of the galaxy…."
"The writing style is engaging and creative…."
"…this thrill-a-minute ride will keep you glued to your seat until the very end."

For more information please visit: http://www.michaelkrose.com/sullivan-s-war

Biography

Michael K. Rose is a writer of science fiction and literary fiction novels and short stories. His work has received rave 4- and 5-star reviews and the books in his Sullivan's War series are frequent inhabitants of Amazon’s “Bestsellers in Science Fiction Series” list.

Writing is not Michael’s only passion. He’s an avid traveler and has visited over two dozen countries on four continents. He also loves classical music and has season tickets to both the symphony and the opera. He can be reached at myriad_spheres@yahoo.com.


Links:
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