Wednesday, December 20, 2017

For Authors: Promos That Work

Good morning! How was everyone's weekend?

***So I just found this in my blog drafts. It was meant to post back in October, but for some reason...didn't. *smacks forehead with palm* So here it is now. ;D***

I promised some time ago that as I started to do more promos and marketing, I'd share my results. Yeah, I've been kinda remiss on that, but I'm going to try and do better going forward.

So this post is for authors. If you don't have books to sell, or aren't interested in ebook promo, this post may put you to sleep. You've been warned. 😉

So a couple of weeks ago, I realized my stand alone crime fiction, The Botanist, really wasn't doing so hot. It was sad and lonely and felt bad because it was getting picked last on Amazon. 😥

Of course that was my fault because I hadn't paid it any promo attention in months. So I decided it was the perfect time to experiment.

Because it's not part of a series, I didn't really want to do a free promo. Sure, free promos will get it into the hands of MANY readers, but it won't net me any cash. Obviously. Best to do free promos for the first book of a series, because many people will buy through. Stand-alones, not so much. Don't get me wrong, you can totally use a stand-alone for your book magnet, but I'm not ready to do that for The Botanist yet. I want Alex and Cody to get a little more love first.

So, I set up a promo using BargainBooksy, which is the sister site to FreeBooksy. I did a $0.99 promo for The Botanist. (I had to change the price to that on Amazon for a set period.) 

The promo appeared on Bargain Booksy's site on a Saturday. I paid $55.00 for said promo.

I read about other authors who'd used this same promo, and they reported roughly 100 downloads. That's almost exactly what I got. 103, to be exact.

On the up side, since I'd only moved 2 copies of this book in the past six months, 100 downloads is great! I was super-stoked.

On the down side, at $0.99, you're only making about $0.35 per copy, which means the promo doesn't quite pay for itself. At least, not in downloads.

But...wait for it...

If your book is in KU (which The Botanist is) promos like these can still make you more money than what you made on downloads.

See, lots of people who see the promo have a Kindle Unlimited subscription. So they hop over to check and see if your book is there.

If it's not, SOME of them will probably download it. If they're interested enough and, let's face it, it's only $0.99, they may. I have no idea what the statistic on that would be. It probably just depends on the person, how much book money they have to spend this week and how alluring your book/cover/blurb is.

But many KU subscribers won't download a book even if it's not in KU because they're trying to avoid paying anything extra on top of their subscription.

But back to my experience. I noticed a definite upswing in page reads from KU. The promo ran on Oct. 7th. So you can see that before that there was no KU activity at all. (I'd actually only put this one in KU about a week before the promo, so that's a lot of why. The weekend of the promo, as you can see, there's a small blip. Each of those 4 little stumps represent between 100 and 200 pages. (Not much, but better than nothing, and remember you get paid for KU pages.)

But look at the rest of the month. Suddenly I was getting more like 500-1000 pages read a day. Often more than that.

Overall, the promo did pay for itself over about 60 days' time. I didn't make a huge amount of profit, but I broke event, made a small chunk of change over my expenses, and got my book in the hands of somewhere between 100 and 200 new readers. Small potatoes, but that's what promos should, right? Not bad for a stand alone.

Don't know what KU is? 
KU stands for Kindle Unlimited. Think of it like Netflix, but for books. Subscribers pay a monthly fee that allows them to read any book in KU for free. As many books as they want, as many times as they want. Like Netflix, KU doesn't have every book Amazon offers. The author has to put it in there and there are criteria, like Amazon exclusivity, but it's a great way for newbie authors to get noticed and get paid. More details HERE.

Have you used Bargain or Free Booksy before? What were your results? Let us know in the comments! (And have a fantastic day!)

Monday, December 18, 2017

Ax Those Crutchwords! The Worst Offender: Was

Good morning, lovely readers! I'm going to start a new series for authors, giving tips on editing for crutch words and passive voice, as I know this is something we all struggle with.

If you've ever read your writing and thought it sounded sub-par or unprofessional, but just didn't know how to fix it, chances are you're leaning on crutch words or using passive voice. I'll show you how to fix that.

The truth is that writers don't have enough of a science behind fixing this sort of thing. Sure, most of the really great writers out there stay away from crutch words and passive voice, but most of that is instinctual for them, after a lot of hours of writing and learning and honing.

Even most other authors you'll find may be able to tell you that something is lacking in your writing, but even they may not know exactly what it is or how to fix it. Or even if they can pinpoint it, it's hard for them (for any of us) to give actual, definable steps toward fixing our weak writing.

Saying, "Do it better," really doesn't help much. Especially newbie writers who really want to write better, but simply don't know how.

Here's where I'll start giving tips to help you out with this. Because there are many MANY offenders when it comes to crutch words, and they nearly always lead to passive voice. So if you cut out your crutch words, 99% of the passive voice in your writing automatically goes away. Isn't that amazing? And you get the added benefit of tighter, more grounded writing. The kind readers love to read and publishers love to publish.

We'll start with what I consider the worst offender of them all: WAS

Was is a word that is an integral part of the English language. You can't write a book without using the word was a few hundred times. It would be impossible.

There are many sentences in which the word is absolutely necessary, and that's fine. But this pesky little 3-letter word often makes its way into sentences where it doesn't belong, and serves absolutely no purpose, except perhaps to remove the reader a bit from the action, and that's never good.

Because was is such a huge problem in our writing, it can be used wrong in MANY ways. Below are some fixes for the most common over-uses I've found: