Monthly Archives: October 2015

Why dream about tomorrow, when you can live it today?

I’m about to do something completely insane. I can’t believe it, but here it is:

I’m going to take six months off work.

It’s only seems insane, of course, because of my Soviet childhood (constant poverty) and American young adulthood (poverty during student years, replaced with “work like hell till retirement” mentality). Australians actually tend to take a gap year almost as a rite of passage into adulthood – travel the world and all that.

I’ve done the calculations – I can afford the bills, because I have a month of vacation and two months of “long service leave” accumulated. (Again, apologies to my hard-working American friends – I never knew of the long service leave concept until I moved down under). The plan is to turn three months of paid leave into six months of half-pay. There will be just a bit of travel, with already booked pre-honeymoon in December and a “proper” honeymoon in May, but otherwise it will be a 40-hour a week writing dream. The plan is to “try out” this writing gig full-time – write two sequels to Shizzle, Inc and really see what it would be like to work as an author.

I don’t know what will happen at the end – maybe I’d find that I miss the office and will come back with a vengeance, ready to climb the corporate ladder. Or I’d learn to appreciate the financial peace of mind my current job provides. Of course, I secretly hope that with two more books under the belt I might get the fuel necessary to make the dream I committed to on 16 October actually possible. Regardless, it will be the longest ever break from office and an adventure into a parallel reality all of my own making.

My mind is made up. Now I just have to convince my manager that it’s a good idea…

87 Comments

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

Grammarly is not that grammar-worthy

Ok, so it’s not entirely true. I don’t regret buying a subscription, but I’m not perfectly happy either. It is better than Word’s  built-in grammar checker, but it won’t replace the proofreader. What can I say, it’s complicated.

It started during the last-minute jitters of finishing endless editing rounds of Shizzle, Inc. I was oscillating between the highs of being happy with my copyeditor to the lows of stressing over the proofread.  Thanks to one of you, who suggested trying Grammarly, I decided to have one last go at proofread myself.

Originally, I was going to get a year-long subscription, but when the time came to pay up, I got second thoughts. What if I tried it and it turned out to be worthless? Grammarly warns you everywhere that charges are not refundable. In the end, I’d decided to do a $29 trial month, and I’m glad I did. Short story is that I won’t subscribe for a whole year, although I will probably do another “trial month” to check my second manuscript. Here’s why:

The good:

  1. I downloaded it as an add-in to my Word, so I could do all editing without the need to upload the file to Internet. This means you can use Grammarly as you write and not get confused with multiple versions. Just watch out – autosave is disabled when Grammarly is enabled, so you have to remember and save manually. Good thing I’m paranoid and do it every five minutes anyway.
  2. Grammarly caught a few embarrassing misspellings (did I mention I’ve had three independent, highly qualified editors look at this thing?). It’s “cozy homes”, not cosy. Isa avoided going outside altogether, not “all together.”
  3. It agreed with me that a comma is not necessary  before “and” in sentences such as “she said and asked for my license”. Of course, you may hate it for that same reason.
  4. It caught British spellings in what was supposed to be an American text (I would kiss it for that alone). Again, after a bazillion rewrites, there were “spiralling”, “dialled”, and “wolly” with two “l”s, as well as monologue, criticising, realising, and moustaches.
  5. It’s consistent. Human editors missed the same bits that they previously highlighted elsewhere in the document. Grammarly was often wrong, but at least it was 100% consistent in doing so.
  6. It gives you explanations for all its decisions. That helps making the final call on whether or not to accept a change.

The bad:

  1. Grammarly is not a writer. It constantly complains that my sentences are too long and that I use a passive voice.
  2. It doesn’t have a sense of humor and therefore doesn’t get that redundant and inappropriate words are part of the comedy.
  3. It is annoyingly politically correct. I mean, it suggests “undocumented migrants” instead of illegal aliens. Really, Grammarly? Wait, Grammarly hates every occurrence of “really”, too.
  4. It highlighted about 1,200 potential errors in my manuscript. About a thousand of them were dead wrong, and it took me a whole day to get through all of them.
  5. It needs an Internet connection at all times, otherwise it falls out.
  6. It did not pick on that many verb tenses, even though I suspect I have a few errors here and there. This was the main drive behind buying the subscription, because I find verb tenses so difficult.
  7. It constantly thinks that I’m addressing people and demands more commas. For example, in “we need a grinder guard” it thinks someone is asking Guard for a grinder.
  8. Some of the comma suggestions just did not make any sense and would have changed the meaning of the sentences. In the end, I’ve ended up going with my gut on the comma suggestions – if it felt right, I put one in, and if it didn’t, well – don’t judge me too hard on it!

I was going to have “The ugly” section, but I’m feeling a lot more accepting and zen about it all now. If you are interested in a second opinion, here’s a much more thorough and almost scientific post from Grammarist.

The bottom line is that I think $29 was worth catching a few embarrassments and giving me a bit more assurance in comma placement.  So there you go – although we’re taking a break now, I have a feeling I will be getting back together with Grammarly for the next book. Even if it’s just a one-month stand.

27 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing, Shizzle, Inc.

Marketing gimmick #4: submit your book to contests

Shizzle, Inc has been featured in The Book Designer’s ebook cover design awards! Ok, so I have not actually won anything, but the design was complimented as “striking” and “great attention grabber”! Not bad for the first attempt at a self-designed cover, aye?

ebook cover design awards

As a marketing gimmick, it has not worked – no impact on sales in its first day of being posted. But I did get some valuable feedback, which I will pass onto my paperback cover designer. Yes – I have started throwing more money at the problem. With the work getting crazy over the last couple of weeks, I have enlisted help in getting my book to the printed stage. Fingers crossed it goes well – I will post more details in just a couple of weeks.

23 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

The best way to predict your future

The best way to predict your future is to create it.

Abraham Lincoln said that. Dude was a genius and a visionary. Today I was reminded just how important it is to follow this motto.

It’s been two years since I’ve started this blog. On a whim, I’ve decided to have a look at my very first post. I had to read it twice, and I was completely overcome by the complex emotions that could only be expressed by “OMG!” and “no way!”

My dream two years ago was for someone to read my not-yet-written book, close it, and want to read more. This is exactly what has happened: I’ve finished a novel, I’ve published it, and, according to Amazon reviews and comments on this blog, people want to read the next installment. Exactly as I have wished for/predicted in that very first post.

Be still, my heart, I have another wish to make:

By 16 October 2017, I want to quit my corporate job and become a full-time writer.

There. The power of intent, and all that. Thank you all for helping make my first dream come true – I gotta go start working on this next one.

Big, big hugs.

 

50 Comments

Filed under General thoughts

Finally! A paid advertising site that actually works!

Well, actually it’s two sites – I accidentally scheduled two promos for the same day (10 October), and so I will never know which business to thank for catapulting Shizzle, Inc back to the bestseller lists. Yeah, baby, guess who’s back? Isa was back in top 100s – in Humor, Adventure, and General Humor! She’s slipping back down as I write this, but the proof is in the pudding. I mean, this screenshot:

Screenshot (20)

As mentioned in the previous post, I’ve paid $25 to eReader News Today to promote a $0.99 sale on Shizzle, Inc. I have also paid $10 to Awesome Gang – you can get details of both websites on my Most Super-Duper, Exhaustive, Comprehensive, and Current Listing of Free and Paid Book Advertising Websites and Ideas. So what did I get for my $35USD investment?

  1. 47 copies sold in the first day – more than in the entire previous month!
  2. Total of 61 copies sold over the promo weekend – this equates to about $20-$21USD, depending on exchange rate. A couple of these were due to my usual efforts – people were nice enough to write and let me know. Thank you!
  3. Shizzle, Inc ranking going from worse than a 1,000 to #76 on an Amazon Bestseller list.
  4. 850 KENP pages read, which is about another $5USD. KENP pages are the payment basis for books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited – I am assuming about 0.57 cents per page.
  5. Hopefully more reviews! If 10% of buyers leave a review, I should get 6-7 new ones in the next couple of weeks – and in this game, reviews are priceless.

I didn’t quite make my money back, although there could be a few late sales at a regular price and more KENP pages read, I will review the results again in a week. Who am I kidding, I will be checking stats every five minutes…

I’m so inspired by this result, that I am staging an all-out assault over the Thanksgiving weekend. The plan is to have 1-2 promos every day on 26-29 November, with a goal of reaching a #1 spot. Can I do it? I think I can – look out for another race in six weeks or so!

70 Comments

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

And we’re off to the races!

Hi, everyone – just a quick note to let you in on my paid advertising experiment this weekend – Shizzle, Inc is on $0.99 sale all Saturday and Sunday 10-11 October. Also, I’ve paid eReader News Today to promote it. These are the stats as of right before the promo goes live:

Sales: this week was poor – only 3 sales in the entire week. The previous week was 12 sales (I don’t know how many were borrowed).

Current Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,189 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

An update will follow at the end of the Sunday!

30 Comments

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

The Most Super-Duper, Exhaustive, Comprehensive, and Current Listing of Free and Paid Book Advertising Websites and Ideas

I hope I can help your marketing efforts by sharing this alphabetized list of book marketing sites. It’s a continuous work in progress – I update it regularly with new sites and my personal results in promoting my Isa Maxwell Escapades:

Even if you don’t want to advertise a book, the sites below are excellent resources to find free or bargain-priced books.

Follow me on Twitter: @spokeana for live updates complete with snapshots of sales charts. 

_____________________________________________________

Addicted to eBooks: Can post a free or low price ($5.99 or less) ebook only for free. The catch is that you will not know when it is posted on the front page, but at a cost of nothing, why not? They don’t accept erotica and you have to have at least 5 reviews. You can only submit your book once.

My experience: I have applied for an account on 25 September and got approved on 28 September. Created a profile and Shizzle, Inc ad on 28 September. Considering paying $15 for a week-long sidebar ad and a Facebook post, although the profile by itself has not made any impact on the sales.

CURRENTLY IGNORING

_____________________________________________________

Armadillo eBooks: can submit a free book for free, or pay an optional $35 to submit to 45 free sites.

My experience: submitted permafree Shizzle, Inc on 24 June. There was a small uptick of maybe 20 extra copies the next day, but I don’t know when they actually added it. Submitted again on 16 September, but have not received a confirmation.

CURRENTLY IGNORING

_____________________________________________________

Ask David: They have 43,900 Twitter followers as of October 2015. Free ads for free Kindle Select books or a $15 promo package. Schedule free days up to 30 days in advance.

My experience: used them on 14 April 2016, hard to say of the result, as I had other promos at the same time. Tried again with permafree Shizzle, Inc on 10 May. There was a bit of an uptick, but not much. The nice thing is that they have an automated service for you to create tweets yourself, so you get extra tweets you can use for a year after the fact. Submitted again on 17 September, and the daily tweets accounted for perhaps 1-5 free downloads per day.

_____________________________________________________

Author Marketing Club: subscribe to get marketing tips. 25K+ subscribers. Free subscription or optional premium membership. Very flashy website, and it kept sending me to the premium membership form – I almost gave up, but luckily found the Free Membership Form eventually.

My experience: I have signed up to try some of the tools, but quickly lost interest.

CURRENTLY IGNORING

_____________________________________________________

Awesome Gang: Appears to be run by the same person that runs the Discount Book Man. They say their newsletter goes to 7,500 subscribers, and they have almost 55K Facebook fans. The same person runs five promo sites.

My experience: I submitted Shizzle for a promo on 10 October for a $10 USD. Hard to say what the results were, as I had another promo on the day.

Submitted again as a freebie (for free) on 21 June, but didn’t hear back from them. Submitted again for free on 18 September and did not hear back. Submitted as a freebie on 31 October.

_____________________________________________________

Bargain Book Angel: FREE service, sister site of Book Angel. UK website for $0.99 books. Submitted Indiot on 18 September (on sale for 1 week). There was no sales on 18th, and only 2 sales over the next week.

Submitted both books for consideration on 1-5 November 2016.

_____________________________________________________

BargainBooksy – see FreeBooksy.

_____________________________________________________

Bargain eBook Hunter – is now Hot Zippy

_____________________________________________________

Best Indie Books: Claim to have over 25,000 Twitter followers and get over 1,500 clicks per week. The network comprises @SnicksList@YourBookAuthors@BestIndieBooks1, and @IndieEbookSTORE. Promo packages are $8-30.

_____________________________________________________

Betty Book Freak: several options from $12 to $30. Don’t say how many subscribers they have.

My experience: Ran one $0.99 promo, sold nothing at all. To give them credit, I asked for and got a full refund.

Applied for a $30 opt-in promo with Shizzle, Inc as a permafree, which means anyone who signs up during October will be directed to the book listing. There was an uptick of 19 downloads on 1 October and a trickle of 1-3 downloads per day. Not worth it.

CURRENTLY IGNORING

_____________________________________________________

BitTorrent: this is a bit “out there” idea, as this is the site often blamed for piracy.  It has over 200 MILLION users. This seems great if you have a series – just give away the first book in the series for free, to build a fan base which will come back to buy the rest.

_____________________________________________________

BKnights via Fiverr: only $5, mixed reviews.

My experience: When Shizzle, Inc was $0.99, got 4 sales for $5 promo. Permafree Shizzle, Inc on 29 July had 234 downloads, with 43 downloads the next day – cost $5.50. Permafree Shizzle had a promo+newsletter for $11 on 25 October and got 226 downloads with 29 downloads the next day.

$0.99 Indiot promo on 1 November for $6.

GOOD VALUE

_____________________________________________________

Black Caviar Book Club: doesn’t look promising – they want $15-25 to reach 29K Twitter and 5K Pinterest followers, which is nothing in social media. Offer a permanent promo page, which in my experience does nothing for sales.

_____________________________________________________

Book Angel: UK site, listing is free and the book appears on their website within 15 minutes. Looks like you can resubmit indefinitely, up to 5 days at a time.

My experience: submitted permafree Shizzle, Inc on 25 June. There was an uptick that day, of about 20 books over average, but I was submitting to multiple small sites during that week. Submitted Shizzle, inc again on 16 September and there was a very small uptick of 1-2 books per day for the next couple of days.

CURRENTLY IGNORING.

_____________________________________________________

Book Barbarian: SF and FANTASY ONLY. 17,000 email subscribers. Pro website. Claims 1,800 average free downloads and 39 average discounted books sold per promo.

_____________________________________________________

Book Basset: seems to be only Facebook and Twitter-based. Sister company with eReaderIQ. Cheap. Shizzle, Inc was advertised with eReaderIQ $15 promo and a $2 add-on of a link to Indiot on 23 September – 143 free downloads on the first day and 16 on the second day, and just 1 paid copy sold.

WORKS BUT OVERPRICED

_____________________________________________________

BookBear: claim to have over 170,000 followers on social media and over 5,000 newsletter subscribers. Pretty pricey at $30 minimum for the newsletter.

My experience: googled reviews, some people have complained. Not sure if I will try them, as I find that Twitter alone is not a good platform for book promos.

_____________________________________________________

BookBlast: now called Booksends (below).

_____________________________________________________

Book Bongo: free service, but they add you to the mailing list. Also have optional paid services, of which $10 Blast looks interesting – they submit your book to 50-100 Facebook sites with the total reach of 500,000 followers.

My experience: submitted permafree Shizzle, Inc on 25 June for a free service, which didn’t have an impact. May try Blast next.

_____________________________________________________

BookBub: you will need to set up an account, after that you can go straight to Submit a New Deal. The prices are quite high, but everyone says they’ve made their money back and then some. The sale price has to be the lowest of the last 90 days. It’s so popular that it’s difficult to get selected, despite the cost. There’s an excellent series of articles by an author Nicholas Rossis, which describe tips and tricks on how to get selected. Will feature the same book only once in any 6 months, and the same author only once every 30 days.

My experience: After applying nearly every month for about 18 months, I have finally been selected for the International feature (excluding the US). I was in Humor category with 200,000 subscribers, and the ad cost $36USD. The estimated number of downloads was 2,500, however, I had over 5,000 downloads after just three days. Next will be applying for the US feature, which seems more likely, now that I have my foot in the door.

_____________________________________________________

Book Butterfly – expensive, but they provide a guarantee of a certain number of downloads, so at least you know what you’re getting. HOWEVER, once you apply, you find out that the pro-rata refund is given only in form of the store credit, and it is waved if the book has previously been free, even for a few days, or if the book previously had a BookBub promo.

My experience: applied with Shizzle and Indiot for the 2016 #ComedyBookWeek period. Very poor performance – I have received a partial refund, but it was still not worth it.

CURRENTLY IGNORING

_____________________________________________________

Book Circle: free listing for free books, with optional paid services. Looks small, but worth a try for a free option.

My experience: submitted permafree Shizzle, Inc with start date of 28 June. No impact on downloads.

_____________________________________________________

Book Club Reading List: same as Novel Finds, a “network” claiming 100K fans. Newsletter goes to 10K+ readers. If you’re interested, you have to suffer through a seemingly endless slide resentation to get to FAQs and pricing.

_____________________________________________________

Book Daily: free to sign up, and to post a sample chapter, but to be properly promoted, they want a $49 MONTHLY fee.

NO

_____________________________________________________

Book Deal Hunter: for free books only, and very easy to submit, but you must be subscribed to their daily email list to submit your book, and not all submissions are included. Not sure why, the home page and FAQ were blank when I last checked.

_____________________________________________________

Book Goodies: post your book for free, but only once, and you have to fill in an author interview (answer questions). So, you first have to complete the interview, then wait 2-3 weeks for it to be approved, then list your book. A free-days listing is $7.50, with special features $5-$299, yet no mention of the size of the mailing list.

My experience: I have answered interview questions and it was live just a week later on Book Goodies website. I received an email notification of the interview being posted on 5 October and it already had  3 Facebook and 4 Twitter shares. On 8 October it had 14 Twitter shares, but that number has not increased since.

Applied for 1-day featured free book on 19 July with Shizzle, Inc for $10. There was NO IMPACT on downloads (23 vs average 15). Have asked for a refund, but didn’t get it.

BLACKLIST

_____________________________________________________

Book Gorilla: seems a cheaper option, while still being quite popular and famous. This explains why they are BOOKED UP TO 2 MONTHS IN ADVANCE. Once again, the price of advertising depends on the book price – $4 to $50. You can also ask to be “starred”, although they will decide if they want to do it, based on your book quality – that would be an additional $100. They themselves say that it’s not likely to make much difference.

My experience: Not a great customer service. Correction – simply crappy customer service, don’t expect them to answer emails. I’ve paid $50 for a promo on 28 November and got 46 sales on the day. It was Thanksgiving, so I will give them another go in the future.

August 27 and 28 – Shizzle, Inc and Indiot, respectively. Permafree got 535 downloads over 3 days and $0.99 Indiot got 25 sales over 3 days at a total cost of $100.

WORKS, BUT OVERPRICED

_____________________________________________________

BookHearts – subsidiary of Choosy Bookworm (see below).

My experience: booked a “guaranteed” deal for 12 December at a cost of $5. Did not impress me, with 6 sales on the day at a cost of $5. They had a second chance on 9 January, but something went wrong and I only got 2 sales. I’d contacted them and they agreed to run the promo (whether the first time or again, not sure) on 18 January. I got 5 sales. The cost was $5, which is not much, but the result is still disappointing. What was even more dissapointing is that I’ve tried to contact Jay from Choosy Bookworm/BookHearts a number of times, and never got a response  of any kind.

BLACKLISTED

_____________________________________________________

Book Hippo: Submit ONLY every 90 days. You have to subscribe to submit an offer. It’s free, with a voluntary donation. Not sure of the subscriber reach or social media following. UK-based company, so they judge your book based on UK Amazon ratings.

My experience: submitted Shizzle, Inc and Indiot on 15 June. Didn’t hear back from them, but then was surprised to get a tweet that Shizzle, Inc was promoted on 2 July. Got 190 downloads over two days as a result. Submitted twice before realising it was not yet 90 days lapsed and did not get promoted.

Was chosen as a “featured author” on 24 October and got 102 free downloads for FREE. Submitted Indiot for $0.99 consideration on 1-7 November.

GREAT VALUE

_____________________________________________________

Booklife: you can submit your book to be considered for a free review (in Publishers Weekly) or opt for a $149 advertisement.

My experience: submitted Shizzle, Inc for a free review consideration on 28 April 2016, it was not chosen for a review. Submitted Indiot on 10 July and also did not get picked.

IGNORING FOR NOW

_____________________________________________________

Book Marketing Tools: will submit your book to over 30 free advertising sites.Cost is $14.99.

My experience: used the tool on 10 July. It’s semi-automated, you still need to click to submit on each of the 30 sites – check each application, as not all fields get filled in. Overall it took about 10 minutes to supply the info and then go through 30 applications, 1 of which did not work. THERE WAS NO IMPACT on the free downloads. Some of the 30 sites no longer accept submissions without a cost (such as Freebooksy).

POOR VALUE

_____________________________________________________

Book of the Day: free service for free books. Looks like it’s automatically posted in just a few hours.

My experience: submitted permafree Shizzle, Inc on 27 June 2016. Not sure if or when it was run – I sometimes get unexpected spikes, though.

_____________________________________________________

Book Partners in Crime Promotions: pretty pricey without stating their mailing list size. Emailed to ask about their subscription list. No response after several days.

______________________________________________________

Bookperk: HarperCollins own site – appears that indie authors can’t advertise with them.

______________________________________________________

Book Pinning: pin your book cover with link to any site for free. Can pin once every 30 days. For Book of The Day requests, can also contact info@bookpinning.com – can post every 60 days. Does not state how much this feature is, only that it’s paid.

My experience: pinned both Shizzle and Indiot on 7 July. Asked how much is the paid Book of the Day is, but got no reply.

______________________________________________________

Book Praiser:  Offer multiple services, free and paid. Seems to be web and Twitter-based. Partners with Zourla. Requires a free registration to submit your book.

My experience: submitted permafree Shizzle, Inc on 27 June and bargain Indiot to start on 16 July 2016. Not sure if it had an impact, as I had a paid promo on 16 July. There was no spike in Shizzle, Inc downloads for several days afterwards.

______________________________________________________

Bookraid: requires you to create an account – makes re-advertising EASY. It used to be free, but is now in cost-per-click mode. Can advertise every 8 weeks.

My experience: promoted on 8 June, got 62 free downloads of Shizzle, Inc that day (up from average unadvertised of 10-20.

HAVE NOT TRIED THE PAID VERSION

______________________________________________________

Bookreader Magazine: top featured title was in top ranking within its category, which got me excited right away. Some eh titles, too. They have 23,000 Twitter followers and around 730 Facebook fans. The submission page looks just like the one for Pretty-Hot.Cost to be featured is $20.  Use coupon code Awesome Save $10. They are very strict on your book pricing – you can’t advertise at a price that is higher than the lowest price within the last 30 days. Also, can’t advertise more often than once every 2 weeks.

My experience: I’ve only done a free author interview. No apparent impact on sales.

_____________________________________________________

Book Review Directory: a book review blog, in October 2015 it has 95 reviewers and 1,383 followers. They offer a sidebar ad for $20.

_____________________________________________________

Book Scream: currently in beta stage, so accepts “book hints” for free, but requires you to sign up for their newsletter.

My experience: signed up and added Shizzle, Inc on 16 June.

_____________________________________________________

Booksends: claim that big-name publishers advertise with them. NOTE: the promo price has to be the lowest of any within the previous 90-day range.

My experience: Dissapointing. Paid $30 for 15 December 2015 promo, which resulted in 22 sales on the day, 5 sales the next day. I was out of Kindle Select at that time, so no KENP pages read. Emailed them on 24 January asking why, they replied right away, but it was sort of “nothing we can do”. In May 2016 wasted $125 on another promo with minimal results.

POOR VALUE.

_____________________________________________________

Book Star Daily: $15-30 for services, not clear how big is the list.

My experience: contacted on 7 July, asking how many downloads I could expect for the price. No reply.

_____________________________________________________

Booktastic: reasonable prices, at $5-10, but no mention of the subscriber list size. Does not accept permafree or books that are at the same low price for more than 2 months.

_____________________________________________________

Book Tweeters: Twitter side of eBook Habit website. Claim to have 475,000 followers across 4 accounts (@eBooksHabit,@TheBookTweeters & @BookDealsToday & @Deals4Readers).

_____________________________________________________

Bostick Communications: they have approached me on the blog and offered to e-mail a press release about my book to their “proprietary database of reviewers and media contacts” for $85. I have googled them and the reviews have been mixed – looks like they will be sending your request for reviews to bloggers and other small fish willing to review a book for a free copy. Some people were happy with the result, because they got reviews, others unhappy because sending out books cost them so much and they got poor reviews. I would suggest doing your own research on this one.

_____________________________________________________

Buck Books – the link is to their policies, but to apply to advertise you actually need to contact Cherub (he’s a dude) directly on thatcherub@gmail.com. Claim to have 42,000 subscribers. Don’t advertise free books.

My experience: paid $12 to be advertised on 19 January. Screwed up and ran an eReader News promo on the same day, so will have to re-test them in July (they advertise only once every 6 months).

______________________________________________________

Cheap Kindle Daily: free listing of your book at any price, but only 96 followers and they require that you put their badge on your site.

_____________________________________________________

Choosy Bookworm: a blog, no info on the followers or subscribers. They review submissions and schedule once a week on Sundays, keep that in mind – apply at least a week or two before your promo date.

My experience: Advertised on 16 January – pathetic results, 11 sales for $19 spent. Emailed to ask why, several times, no response.

DO NOT USE.

_____________________________________________________

Digital Book Today: a blog with 20-24 thousand visits per week. Lots of options for promotions, quite confusing, actually – some of the buttons link to an image, rather than a submission form. I’ve contacted them about the issue of missing links, no reply.

My experience: scheduled on 17 December. $30 for “Deal of the Day”. Pathetic 8 copies sold. Complained about low sales and got $15 partial refund.

_____________________________________________________

Discount Book Man: appears to be run by the same person as Awesome Gang. Submit your book for free, or opt for a $15 “featured” promo. I’ve looked at their featured list – the books with professional-looking covers had really good rankings.

My experience: I submitted Shizzle, Inc on 27 September (for free). No apparent impact on sales.

_____________________________________________________

eBookasaurus: advertise your free book for free. Or list your bargain book – a premium listing is just $10. Could not find any mention of the number of subscribers or followers.

My experience: Applied with permafree Shizzle, Inc on 10 May and scheduled for 11 May, at no cost. Unfortunately, no visible effect on free downloads, either.

_____________________________________________________

eBook Booster: claims to boost your book to up to 45 promotional websites with one fee.

_____________________________________________________

eBooks Habit: accept books under $2.99. Can submit for free (placement is not guaranteed) or as low as $10. Claim to have nearly half a million Twitter followers and thousands of subscribers. Also own Book Tweeters.

My experience: submitted Shizzle, Inc for free consideration on 24 November. Didn’t get it. Submitted again for 13-15 April 2016 and didn’t receive a reply/didn’t get it. Applied with the permafree Shizzle, Inc on 10 May. Didn’t receive a reply.

_____________________________________________________

eBook Lister: paid promo is $25. Claims to have 41,900 subscribers.

My experience: scheduled a promo (email mailout) on 14 December. I have contacted them to complain that the $25 payment only got me 3 sales. No response.

DO NOT USE.

_____________________________________________________

eBooks for Free: cost is $12-40, depending on the feature. Super annoying pop-up banners on each page, but no mention of the subscriber list.

_____________________________________________________

eBook Soda: claim to have “12,000+ subscribers, and receive around 5,000 unique active visitors to their website per month”. Cost starts at $15.

My experience: Got 1 sale on 2 February for $15. Emailed and asked why – got a prompt apology and full refund.

_____________________________________________________

eReaderIQ: must check later – very professional-looking website. Would cost $30 to email 17,000 readers of Women’s Fiction.

Now partnering with BookSends and Book Bassett. I have emailed with questions about the $150 Free Book of the Day on 10 May. No response. Submitted Shizzle, Inc to eReaderIQ for a $15 promo, with a $2 add-on of a link to Indiot on 23 September via Book Bassett- 143 free downloads on the first day and 16 on the second day, and just 1 paid copy sold.

_____________________________________________________

Ereader News Today: I LOVE THEM! Scroll all the way to the bottom to find “authors, submit your free or bargain book here”. The cost is $25. Takes a few days to set up, get approved, and pay the invoice – allow a few working days before your promo date.

My experience: DID I MENTION I LOVE THEM? Paid $25 to advertise a $0.99 sale of Shizzle, Inc on 10 October. The promo resulted in 63 sales, so it has just paid back the investment. On top of it, several books appear to have been downloaded as part of the KU – two days of 800-plus pages read.

$30 option to send to Humor list with permafree Shizzle, Inc on 10 May resulted in 1,228 downloads on first day and over 600 on the second.

Submitted for $35 Action and Adventure promo on 24-25 September, but got rejected – better stick with Humor category. Submitted again on 27 September.

_____________________________________________________

eReader Utopia: DO NOT USE: after you create an account, you get a message that they’re shutting the website down.

_____________________________________________________

Flurries of Words: just a $5 donation for a listing, but the site has only 424 followers. Also, clicking on the cover image of featured books does NOT take you to their sale site.

_____________________________________________________

Free Book Dude: list your free book for free or choose from various paid options, from a $10 sidebar ad to a $100 for a 5-week promo. I was concerned that it looks like there’s only 285 members and no mention of traffic stats or the number of subscribers, so I’ve opted for a guest blog. If the guest blog gets much traffic (without me reblogging it), I will consider paid offers.

My experience: I have not received a reply after 2 weeks, so pass.

_____________________________________________________

Free Books Hub: packages are $10-20 and they claim to have 50K+ Twitter Users
and 1000+ eBook Subscribers (that’s a very small list for free book promos).

_____________________________________________________

FreeBooksy: you can advertise free and bargain books. BargainBooksy – $70 to reach 104,000 subscribers to the Chicklit genre. For some reason, it was $100 to promote a free book in the same category! It had testimonials from a few real people, but I have not yet committed to buying any promos.

My experience: Advertised on 31 October – $25 to reach 60,000 YA subscribers. The result was disappointing, only in 10 sales. What was amazing, though, that when I’ve emailed them to ask why I got so few, they apologized (what??) and offered to credit my $25 towards another promo, with Chicklit/Romance audience. Advertised again on 5 December for $70. Another disappointing run, with 19 sales. Emailed them with just polite feedback and they’ve REFUNDED all of my money. Amazing!

Advertised again on 4 June 2016 with permafree Shizzle, Inc – YA feature for $75.

_____________________________________________________

Free eBooks Daily: $3-$6, only Twitter and Facebook-based: 20,000 Twitter followers and over 4,700 Facebook fans. I find social media in general doesn’t work well for selling books, but they are cheap.

My experience: A $3 listing on 22 June got me very few downloads – I’d credit them with 10, max.

_____________________________________________________

Free eBooks for Young Adults: free services, although it looks like a baby blog. I’m not sure if it’s suitable for Shizzle, Inc, but it may be perfect for your novel.

_____________________________________________________

Free Kindle Books and Tips: Kindle only. Claim to have 675,000 subscribers. Apparently run by an author who has sold over 1 million Kindle copies. Your book MUST have an average 5 stars from at least 8 reviews on Amazon (unless it’s a new release). Very picky – rejects 75% of author submissions. The cost is $25 for a regular post for a book priced at $1 or less, plus various other options. They have a free app – with very mixed reviews (on Amazon).

My experience: Paid $25 for a promo on 9 December. 18 sales on the day and 6 sales the day after. Not terribly impressive at the cost of $25, but I might try them again.

_____________________________________________________

Free Online Novels: for free novels only. I assume they have to be free permanently, not just temporary giveaways.

My experience: submitted Shizzle, Inc via email on 10 May. Got a response on 25 May that it was “linked” to by FON.

_____________________________________________________

Frugal Freebies: this is a site for all freebies, which accepts books as well. Claims to have more than 3.5 million views (I assume in total). Also has 89K Facebook fans and multiple free book sites. Free service and a super-easy submission form. NOTE: they do not let you know when the book is posted.

My experience: submitted Shizzle, Inc for 15 July.

_____________________________________________________

Genre Crave: Freebie subscriber list is 20,000, but at $50 is too pricey for the 405-1,051 clicks it may get. Lower prices for genre lists, which are much smaller.

_____________________________________________________

Genre Pulse: claim to have worked with hundreds of bestselling authors since inception in 2014 and delivering “150,000 clicks” via a total of 60,000 email recipients. Per-genre promos are just $16.

My experience: booked Shizzle, Inc on 23 July, but was supposed to get 25% off and the email with coupon did not come through..

_____________________________________________________

Genre Reader: looks like a newish site, not sure of how many subscribers they have, Appears to be free.

My experience: contacted them via email on 25 May. No reply.

_____________________________________________________

Get Free Books: very straightforward submission for permafree ebooks.

My experience: submitted Shizzle, Inc on 10 May.  Did not get a reply. Emailed on 27 June, asking if they accept Amazon permafree listings, or only self-hosted books.

_____________________________________________________

Good Kindles: $10-$20 to permanently feature your book on their site, with options to “bump it up”. This one is different from most big sites in that they do not require your book to be discounted. The site has 88K Twitter followers, and I’ve checked some of the promoted books – they have decent ratings.

My experience: I’ve bought a $9.95 promo for a weekend of 3 October, when Shizzle is priced at $2.99, which was a real test of the site’s services, as $2.99 is a regular price. This is what my page looks like. As of 8 October, there has been no impact on sales – I’m not sure if I will try again for a $0.99 sale.

_____________________________________________________

GoodReads Great for everything, except (in my opinion), paid advertising.

My experience: I have paid $20 and tried every combination of keywords, tagline, and target audience. I have started with 10 cents per click, then 20, then 30, and finally 40 cents. As of 8 October, after a month, not a single click. I think my $20 will sit in that account indefinitely…UPDATE: six months later, I managed to get 14 clicks total.

_____________________________________________________

Hot Zippy: parent company for Bargain eBook Hunter, PixelScroll and Romance eBook Deals. Starts at $23 and completely automated purchase. They require a 3-30 day notice. Actually have a humor category.

My experience: applied for a 2-day PixelScroll promo on 23 June.

_____________________________________________________

iAuthor: a UK site, professional-looking, with quality-looking titles in collection. Advertise your book for free.

My experience: created a profile and a free advert on 28 September 2015. It looks fantastic, and my embedded sample is displayed right under the title, so it draws attention (no need to click on a link). No impact on sales whatsoever by 8 October.

_____________________________________________________

I Crave Freebies: freebie website that accepts books.

My experience: emailed them about Shizzle, Inc on 9 July.

_____________________________________________________

Ignite Your Book: very straightforward submission, free service, for free books only.

My experience: submitted Shizzle, Inc for 17-31 May period.

_____________________________________________________

Indie Book of the Day: submit your free and “soon to be free” books 7-30 days prior to sale. Pretty pricey at $30-50, but they also offer free blog tours and free reviews.

My experience: applied for a free book review on 7 April 2016. Have not heard from them as of 11 May 2016.

_____________________________________________________

Indie Book Promo: claim to have over 250K Twitter followers, 15,000 Facebook Fans, just over 20,000 Goodreads subscribers, and a “huge number” of  Google+ followers. I’ve clicked on a few titles that are at the top of current display – their rankings were from great to terrible. Advertising prices start at $25 for a month.

My experience: I have bought a month-long sidebar ad, starting on 27 November, for $25. I’ve also provided an author interview. No impact on sales whatsoever.

_____________________________________________________

IndieReader: I had a look, and the look of the site turned me off – it just looks like a blog full of ads. It doesn’t say anything about the subscriber list, or how many followers it has, but it does invite you to pay $25 for a day of advertising your free book. It’s a “nah” for me.

_____________________________________________________

Inspired Reads: turned out to be a Christian Kindle book site (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Not for the foul-mouthed Isa, though…

_____________________________________________________

Just Kindle Books: partner/same as eReader Nation. Currently have a 17,500 mail list and lots of social media. Cost is $15-35.

My experience: booked the basic $15 package on 15 June.

_____________________________________________________

KBoards: you must register with Kindle Boards first. They do not accept erotica. Cost is $20.

My experience: bought the $20 promo for Indiot on 16 July – MUST HAVE 3 reviews by then.

_____________________________________________________

Kickstarter: this is not a book advertising site, per se, but I am toying with an idea to do a fundraiser to help me write the second one (I desperately need to take some time off work). Something like “donate $25 and get an autographed copy of the second book in Isa Maxwell series” or “donate $3 and get a free ebook.”

_____________________________________________________

Kindle Nation Daily: appears to be run by the same people as BookGorilla (based on the payment info). They claim to reach 174,000 subscribers, but the cheapest “sponsorship” option is $29 and is fully automated – after reading the description I was a little worried that I might pay and end up with a technical error.

My experience: was sold out in January, so I’ve booked for 12 April, a $99 (sale) deal with slideover to BookGorilla (Option G). Shizzle, Inc was free and I got almost a thousand free downloads on the day, but was dissapointed with the value.

_____________________________________________________

Kindle on the Cheap: a baby blog with 204 followers, but a free service.

My experience: nothing to lose, so I’ve submitted Shizzle, Inc on 27 September. No impact on sales as of 8 October.

_____________________________________________________

Many Books: claim to have 130,000 subscribers – the basic promo is just $25. The book must have at least 10 reviews on Amazon with an average of at least 4 stars. A book can be featured only once in any 3 month period. They claim that a $35 promo of a free book is guaranteed to get you at least 1,000 downloads.

My experience: Advertised on 13 April at a cost of $25 and got 879 downloads, but I had two other promos in previous days. Advertising again on 20 July.

____________________________________________________

Masquerade Crew: Twitter-based, so I’m not sure about results. Cheap ($10-25), so may try when I have a spot without any promos going. Submitted the book for a free review listing (not guaranteed).

_____________________________________________________

Mobile Read: a discussion forum that allows self-promotion.

_____________________________________________________

My Book Cave: FREE advertising for a limited time. Must be new, because there’s no mention of the size of subscriber list or social media reach. Requires you to rate your book in terms of sex, violence, swearing, drug use, etc.

My experience: free Shizzle, Inc got 117 downloads for FREE. Indiot on sale for $0.99 will be featured on 4 November.

GREAT VALUE

_____________________________________________________

NetGalley: I would love for someone to tell me if they’ve had success with this one. The site suggests that I may be able to connect with professional readers and media, but at the $399 just to list, or $599 for a six-month listing and one promo, it seems steep. However, you can always join a NetGalley co-op, such as Patchwork Press Author Services, and advertise for a fraction of that price.

_____________________________________________________

Novel List: claims to have 100K fans across its network, but if it’s on social media, it’s not that impressive. Costs start at $40 for a “blast” and to list the book with reviewers. Kind of vague, not sure about it.

_____________________________________________________

One Hundred Free Books:  $75 minimum promo, or you can notify them for free (I’ve done that a few times, never got a spot).

My experience: never got a spot when it was free. Not so sure about paying $75.

_____________________________________________________

People Reads: have a few testimonials, but no information on followers or size of the subscriber list.

My experience: applied for a fee Freebie promo after 17 June.

_____________________________________________________

Pixel of Ink: might as well go straight to Pixel of Ink Author’s Corner, which will inform you that apparently advertising with them is very limited (or sold out) and is available through BookSends.

_____________________________________________________

Pretty-Hot: top free promoted books had amateur covers and “ugh” rankings on Amazon. They have 7500 Twitter followers and around 5690 Facebook fans. It’s free (with an optional $25 featured promo). Use coupon code Pretty to save $10 on featured ad.

My experience: I listed Shizzle, Inc on 27 September 2015 for free (no featured ad) – no increase in sales as of 8 October.

_____________________________________________________

PixelScroll: see HotZippy.

_____________________________________________________

Publishers Weekly: see Booklife.

_____________________________________________________

Readers in the Know: free trial for 60 days, after which it’s 20 pounds/year. Does not mention the follower reach.

_____________________________________________________

Read Cheaply: require your book to be high quality – edited, proofread and have good reviews. I might try this a bit later, when I have a paperback version on Amazon. Will not feature the same book more than once every 4 months.

My experience: to be tested in January.

_____________________________________________________

Read Free: advertise your free or discounted book for free. Also holds a contest of 50 Best Indie Books of the year.

My experience: Advertised for free on 7 December. Got 4 sales on the day, great for a free deal :-), plus 3 sales the next day. Applied again on 16 May with free Shizzle and discounted Indiot. Did not receive a reply and emailed again on 23 May.

_____________________________________________________

Reading Deals: Kindle and all other platforms. 80,000 twitter followers. Can submit your book for free, but a spot is not guaranteed – a $15 guarantees a promo.

My experience: applied in June, for free, and was accepted. Ad was live on 22 June.

_____________________________________________________

Robin Reads: claims over 120,000 “members”, but when you apply, it says a newsletter goes to 30,000 subscribes (still very good). Selective with their book choices – I was pleased to see that all of their promoted books were currently ranked very high in their categories! They promote only free or $0.99 books, and you can only list once every 3 months. Interestingly, they publish their average downloads – highest numbers are in Mystery category, with an average 1,300 free or 65 paid downloads. The service is reasonably priced – $15 for Scifi, Fantasy, Horror, and Dystopia genres, and $30 for Romance, Steamy/Erotic, Thriller, Mystery, and Nonfiction.

My experience: Promo on 26 November at a cost of $30. Sales on the day – 19. Might give them a second chance, Thanksgiving could have been a bad choice.

I tried again with new Featured Ad for Shizzle, Inc and left the date flexible. Only 1% of these ads get accepted. Mine did not get accepted. Tried again on 23 June. Did not get accepted. Can try every 7 days.

_____________________________________________________

Romance eBook Deals: see HotZippy.

_____________________________________________________

Snickslist: list a free giveaway once it’s actually free. No erotica.

My experience: placed a $5 permafree ad (good for one year) on 16 May 2016. Shizzle, Inc is listed, but I doubt it has done anything for the sales (unless you count the daily dribble of about 10 free downloads, which I seem to get anyway, with just social media and staying at the top of free charts).

_____________________________________________________

Story Finds: they have 4,000 Twitter followers. It’s actually not that much in Twitterverse. 6,320 newsletter subscribers is a bit better, and they have 900 new visitors to website per day. Still, for $50-60 spotlights, I’m not sure I will make my money back.

_____________________________________________________

Sweet Free Books: doesn’t say how many email subscribers or site visitors, claims 141,000+ Twitter followers and 13,000+ Facebook fans. Only $7 to list. Can list every 60 days. Amazon and Barnes&Noble listings.

My experience: scheduled an Action-adventure promo on 1 June.

_____________________________________________________

The Books Machine: sells a membership for $10 per month. I’m not yet clear on how it works or if it’s worth it. Requires authors to give away free copies.

_____________________________________________________

The eReader Cafe: free for free books, or $35 for $0.99 books.

My experience: Booked for 18 August 2017.

_____________________________________________________

The Indie View: everything on this site is free. However, to be able to sign up as an author, you need at least one 4-star review from one of their reviewers. They publish the list of their reviewers.

My experience: I have emailed them asking to have Shizzle, Inc reviwed, but the email to “admin” bounced back.

_____________________________________________________

The Midlist – has been bought by HarperCollins in October 2015 and will be folded into Bookperk (see Bookperk above).

_____________________________________________________

Totally Free Stuff: a freebie stuff that lists books.

_____________________________________________________

Zourla: partners with Book Praiser.

_____________________________________________________

Zwoodle Books: advertise your free book for free, or donate $5 to a charity. The promoted books’ ratings varied from good to eh, but I really liked that the site requires the author to pledge not to ever buy paid reviews. In this day and age, this just might make Zwoodle a more trusted resource for readers. Will definitely use for the future free promotion.

My experience: I have completed a pledge to never buy book reviews: http://truereviewpledge.com/members/anaspoke/

Applied for 13-15 April promo. Never heard from them.

_____________________________________________________

Poll from KDP on the most effective promo sites

_____________________________________________________

HASHTAGS:

  1. #ComedyBookWeek
  2. #eBook
  3. #BookBuzzr
  4. #BookGiveaway
  5. #BookMarketing
  6. #Kindle
  7. #KindleBargain
  8. #FreeKindle
  9. #FreeKindleReads

_____________________________________________________

TIPS ON BUILDING A PROMOTION STRATEGY:

Maximise your KDP Select promo days

184 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

“Shizzle, Inc” by Ana Spoke on tour

The book tour continues in Helsinki, Finland! Thank you to Marco (and of course, the Internet) for making it possible 🙂

Marco Casteleijn

Available on Amazon Available on Amazon.com

Today is Tuesday, and instead of letting you know how my writing is going, I want to introduce you this week to a talented young writer who just published her first book. It is getting great reviews and if you love comedy (and who does not love to laugh) please go check it out on Amazon.

Ana is on tour, well not in person, like most of us she has a day job, so a virtual tour it is. I was curious how she did it, so she is letting us know how this writer thingy is working out. Please also visit her blog to get more behind the scenes of the glamorous life of an author (spoiler: it is not like the Hollywood kind-a-glamerous). I started this blog and my ‘book-thingy’ very recent, lets just say she is way ahead of me. Enjoy:


Marco: Awesome you…

View original post 726 more words

2 Comments

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

Marketing gimmick #3, or “what does it take to get on a bestseller list?”

It’s been exactly a month since Shizzle, Inc went live on Kindle, and what a month it’s been! Shizzle, Inc now has 10 all-positive reviews on Amazon and readers are already anticipating the sequel. Not only that, it went all the way up to #72 on the paid Humor Bestseller list and up to #23 on the free Humor Bestseller list during a 2-day free giveaway.

So, how did it happen, you ask? Am I ready to quit the corporate slavery and dedicate myself to full-time writing? Am I rich yet?

Yeah, about that…As promised, I will now reveal how many sales it took to get to #72 in the first week:

12

No, not 12 hundred. Just 12. Well, that did not include any copies downloaded as part of Kindle Unlimited, as Amazon no longer tells you that. All I know is that right about that time a thousand pages was read (equivalent to 4 copies read back-to-front). I do know that Amazon counts those copies towards the sales for ranking purposes.

“How can it be?” I hear you say.

Well, it was a shocker to me. I mean’ I’ve heard about the importance of placing your book in just the right category, without too much competition, but actually, you don’t get to. The categories you pick in “bookshelf” section of your author account are different from those that are assigned to your book in Kindle store. I didn’t put Shizzle, Inc into “Action and Adventure” subcategory. In fact, there are no subcategories at all.

The mystery cleared a bit when I’ve had similar levels of sales in later weeks, yet was stuck somewhere between 500-1,000 rank in Humor. It confirmed the rumor (or fact) that Amazon’s ranking algorithms give more weight to newly released books. This is very important, as it confirms the importance of your book launch – the best chance you have of making it onto the coveted list is in the first week. If you can keep there for longer than three hours (like Shizzle did), there’s a good chance you will be discovered by new readers.

According to this Kindle Sales Rank Calculator, it looks like getting back onto the Humor bestseller list (I was about 3,800 overall) will take 56 books a day. Sigh. I hope it’s wrong, or alternatively hope I’m selling that many soon.

“Okay, what about the free promo?” I hear you ask. “Didn’t thousands of people download it, and it will take just a few weeks before they tell thousands of their friends to read it?”

If you believe some of the posts on the Internet, all it takes to become a self-published sensation is to make your book free for a few days. I recall a number of 60,000 downloads over 5 free days. I’ve made Shizzle, Inc free for two days. So, how many people jumped at that opportunity?

139

No, not thousand. Just 139. And the giveaway followed by several days of no sales at all. Since then I’ve averaged about 1.5 books per day.

But, but…I have 25,000-plus followers? Isn’t social media supposed to launch your career and all that?

As it turns out, no. Since then I’ve realized two things that a lot of pros probably already know:

  1. Social media is not going to help you sell books. Don’t get me wrong – a strong fan base is very important, for support, for those initial (few) sales, and for those all-important first reviews. But the reason most people follow others is to get free stuff – be that advice, jokes, or any other entertainment. So while I still strongly advocate to develop and maintain a social media presence, I will no longer consider it to be my marketing campaign.
  2. You have to advertise if you really want to see results. Actually, you even have to pay to advertise giving your books away for free – I bet that’s the only way someone can get 60,000 downloads in five days. Lucky for you, I’m currently compiling the most comprehensive list of websites that offer advertising for free or for a fee. I will publish the list in just a few days.
  3. You better have more than one book. Oh, how I wish I had something else to offer to those people who have read the first one and apparently can’t wait to read the next adventure! This was an important realisation, as it finally pushed me to start writing the second installment. I’m up to five thousand words already and will blog about this too.

There you go. A little dose of reality, which will hopefully get sweeter soon, as I start throwing money at the problem. Can’t wait to see a steep up-trend in my sales and tell you all about how I did it. Meanwhile, have a little fun estimating how many books you’ll have to write before you can replace your current income with this Royalty Estimator.

94 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing, Shizzle, Inc.