Tag Archives: advertising

#ComedyBookWeek is looking for new management

Hi everyone,

As you already know, I have been through a roller coaster year, from a scary low of a “probably not cancer, but let’s cut you open and look” to a new job and a wedding to boot. As a result, I have not delivered on my promise to host another #ComedyBookWeek event. Eight months into the awesome new job, it doesn’t look like I will have any time to do it again in the next decade or so.

In light of the above realization, I have decided to pass the baton on to someone more energetic and capable of growing the event into something even more special. If you think you might be that person, please email me directly at ana (dot) spoke (at) yahoo (dot) com.

There is no catch – I don’t want any money or favors, just assurance that you are willing and able to take over the event. You will get the rights over the domain name, the contacts, any previously created content, etc (but you will have to arrange for your own hosting of the website). In your email, please let me know:

  1. Why you want to take over #ComedyBookWeek. Are you a comedy writer yourself? Have you had an experience creating or growing an online enterprise?
  2. Why you are suited to manage the event – are you technically savvy? Do you have the time?
  3. Anything else that would convince me to hand over my baby.

That’s it. Looking forward to your submissions!

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I GOT A BOOKBUB!!!!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I actually screamed when I got the email – Josh thought someone horrible happened. Instead, something almost miraculous did.

For those of you that may not know, BookBub is the holy grail of e-book advertising, for both self-published authors and traditional publishers. It’s head and shoulders above any other online marketing tool, and I have tried them all, as you may already know if you’ve seen my Super Duper List. The only one that I haven’t tried was BookBub, not because I couldn’t afford them, but because they didn’t want me or either one of my books. Believe me, I’d tried. I have been applying on nearly monthly basis for about eighteen months, and have been getting stock-standard rejections. I have tried different categories. I have tried getting BookBub followers (I have 27 of them now). I did everything I could to increase the number of reviews (Shizzle, Inc has 82 reviews). I even tried replying, begging for feedback. Still, “not at this time” was all they said.

Until now! Look at it! Look!!

bookbub-offer

I have confirmed and paid – Shizzle, Inc will be one of BookBub’s Featured Deals on 6 March! As you can see from above, there’s a catch, though – it was NOT selected for the US market, which is only, you know, my target market, but hey! I got my foot in the door, and every time I’d managed to do that before, I eventually got the rest through. The subscriber list will be Humor and it’s 200,000 strong. The estimated number of downloads is 2,500, which is not too flash, but let’s see what actually happens. The cost is $36 USD and I hope for at least a few buy-throughs to Indiot. But mainly, I hope that sometime in the future I get the whole world covered in free copies of Isa Maxwell’s Escapades.

It’s a sign. I mean, I don’t believe in these things, of course, but what else can it be? I have a crisis of confidence, take a three-month hiatus, return, and finally land the coveted prize. Oh, wait. It’s persistence. That’s right, that dogged persistence does eventually pay off. Maybe not the first or seventh time, but you never know, it could be the next one.

Just keep going. I will too.

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Who can call Mr. Hue a douche now?

I was flipping through the channels today, trying to find anything but the commentary on the US election, when I had a strong deja vu feeling. I went back to Amazon and looked through the 1-star reviews of Shizzle, Inc. until I found its source:

“…the behavior of Mr. Hue was unrealistic and quite frankly, shockingly rude. A complete douche. If this were reality, his company would have gone down in flames before it ever got off the ground.”

Sorry, dear Gloria Louise. Turns out that if Shizzle, Inc. was set in reality, Mr. Hue would now be President-elect of the United States. So what if he spouts dubious business advice, insults people, or fires loyal employees? If anything, he’s not controversial or shocking enough. I mean, these quotes are almost polite when compared to some of the stuff that has come out of Donald Trump’s mouth:

Meme #9 Mr Hue

Meme #8 Mr Hue

Meme #6 Mr Hue

So guess what? I’m gonna bring him back! Somehow, I’m gonna use this recent drama to spin and sell more copies of Shizzle, Inc., because, as one extremely successful man has taught us all, you “can never be too greedy.” Mr. Hue probably won’t be groping anyone or making lewd comments about his own daughter, but maybe he can, I don’t know, call someone “fat and ugly” before firing them, that kind of thing. Maybe he will deport the Japanese instead of merely taking advantage of them. This may anger a lot of people, but what does that matter if I get to push my own agenda and sell more copies of my book? And in any case, who cares what people think about Shizzle, Inc., as long as I “got a young, and beautiful piece of ass.” Sorry to drag you into this, Joshy.

Not sure what I’m gonna do yet, but I have a feeling it’s the perfect time to try the New York agents again.

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My experience with a NetGalley co-op by Patchwork Press

If you’ve seen my Super-Duper List of Book Advertising Websites, then you may have noticed my moaning about the $399 NetGalley signup fee. That’s just so you can give your book away for free to book bloggers and other professionals, in hopes that they will post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Needless to say, I was in no mood to take that big of a financial hit, until I came across another author mentioning Patchwork Press and the NetGalley co-op service they provide. Basically, instead of paying $399 to list one of your books for six months, you get to try the service for much, much less – in fact, a year-long listing through the co-op would cost only $360. You can try NetGalley for one month for just $50. It sounded too good to be true, but I can spare a fifty, so I was willing to try it.

I listed Shizzle, Inc for one month from late July to August. To simplify things, I’ve decided to break my review into two parts: my experience with Patchwork Press and my opinion of NetGalley.

Patchwork Press:

  1. First of all, the co-op is not a hoax! Yay! Shizzle, Inc was listed on Netgalley as promised (the listing is now archived). The reason you pay less is that (I assume), Patchwork Press (PP) pays a publisher fee and gets to list a large number of titles, at a fraction of a cost for each.
  2. PP has a responsive customer service – all my emails were answered promptly. There was a glitch when Shizzle, Inc was not posted on the day I wanted, but I got a prompt apology and the listing was extended as a bonus.
  3. Great customer service continued throughout, not just until I paid the bill – something was wrong with my epub file, but PP offered to sort it for me. I was given an option to provide a Word file, which they converted.
  4. PP did all the assessments of requests and chose who should or shouldn’t get a copy of my book. You may prefer to have control over this aspect of the service, but I was happy to let them use their experience and judgement.
  5. Every time a review was posted, I got an email from NetGalley asking if I wanted to have it added to the book’s page. I had to forward this email to PP if I wanted the review to be added, and they did so very quickly (in less than a day).
  6. There’s no option to use NetGalley’s marketing services, but I’m about to ask PP if that option exists but is not advertised by them.

NetGalley:

  1. I don’t know how many requests Shizzle, Inc had, but I got 5 reviews in the span of a month – 4 positive and 1 negative.
  2. Turns out that people have the option to vote on the cover. This was an added bonus, as I’ve designed the cover myself and continuously worry if it’s good enough. The cover got 9 “thumbs up” and 1 “thumbs down.”
  3. I can’t weigh in on the marketing option (which is an additional $200 for your book to be included in a newsletter). NetGalley claims to have 30,000 subscribers to the newsletter, so I would imagine it would be a huge difference in the number of reviews.
  4. You may choose not to add the negative reviews to your book listing (as I did). However, you can’t control what gets posted on other platforms, so I got one negative review as a result. Bummer. But I did get four positive reviews, including one after the listing was archived. That’s an average of $10 per review, via an acceptable and perfectly legal platform.

Overall, I would recommend trying a co-op service. Apparently, there are others out there, such as Victory Editing for as little as $40/month. If you know of any others, please let me know!

May the positive reviews be with you.

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

Quick How-To: get 1,000 Goodreads followers with 5 minutes of effort

Have a gander at these here numbers: I now have 1,020 Goodreads friends!

Ana Goodreads stats

How did I manage this, you ask? Well, about a week ago, I had 200 friends, as a result of a year of giveaways (total of 8, which are also responsible for the staggering 2,424 of my books on people’s to-read shelves) and also because of two months of madness advertising #ComedyBookWeek. Then I discovered something most of you probably already know.

Goodreads lets you connect to your friends on other social platforms  en masse.

So, if you already knew that, then why didn’t you tell me? For those that didn’t, here’s how you can connect to thousands of your Twitter or Facebook friends with a few clicks (assuming you have thousands of Twitter or Facebook friends):

  1. On Goodreads, hover over your picture in the top-right corner. When a menu appears, click on “Friends.”
  2. Find this in the top-right corner of “Friends” page:                                        Ana Goodreads stats
  3. Click on each platform’s icon and send out invites by clicking on “Add Friends” button.

That’s it. Now they all will see your general updates, comments you’ve made in groups, and you can invite them to your groups or events. Like, I dunno, you can invite them to #ComedyBookWeek group. Just sayin’.

You’re welcome.

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New marketing plans, a magic hashtag, and a free giveaway

I’ve been  trying diligently to get the first draft of Indiot finished, which has been at the expense of blogging. I won’t lie, there have been long morning walks on the beach with the dog, a few massages, and more than few renovation shows in the mix. Maybe even an occasional Real Housewives of Whatever, but I consider that research – in the third instalment, which is currently under plotment, Isa gets into more filthy rich drama than she could ever imagine.

I’ve also done a presentation on self-publishing basics to my writer’s group – it was so successful, I’ve been asked to do it again in a couple of weeks. I was incredibly nervous, so much so that I forgot to tape it! Such a bummer, too, because I was on fire, with the show turning into a bit of stand up. People were laughing AND taking notes, what more could I ask for? I will be more composed and better prepared next time and hope to post a decent video on YouTube.

As a result of all this sidetracking, sales are down. Boo! I mean, boo-hoo, poor me:

Sales on 7 april

Of course, I’ve learned something from this experience, the most important lesson being is that you can’t go into a house flip without a proper plan and budget, or expecting to do all the work yourself when you don’t even know how to hold a hammer. Secondly, you can never stop marketing your book, because the snowball effect doesn’t happen unless you keep pushing it along. Thirdly, you can get a massage for cheap at you local massage school, and yes, two massages a week are okay – after all, you’re helping students learn. Good on you.

There’s another small but pretty amazing discovery I’ve made last week, which I’m happy to share with you. Have a look at the above graph – do you notice anything? Specifically in the blue “Normalised Pages Read” part? Over the last four weeks both graphs were pretty much dead, with just a few sales and pages read thanks to my regular tweets of quotes with links. It was especially slow over the last two weeks, when I became so destructed, I forgot to top my Buffer account on most days. Then, a few days ago, I made one small change which resulted in a big spike on the blue graph.

Hands up – who wants to know what it is?

Believe it or not, I just changed a Twitter hashtag. Instead of a useless #humor and #kindle and fairly useless #amwriting and #IndieBooksBeSeen, I now make sure each tweet is accompanied by this little beauty:

#KindleUnlimited

That’s it. Honestly, I have no idea why I have not targeted subscribers to Kindle Unlimited before – Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell escapades Book 1) is as good as free to them, but I get about $2 each time someone reads the whole thing, as compared to the $0.35 royalty I get with each $0.99 sale. I’m so excited about this discovery! I’d love to figure out how to target and find more Kindle Unlimited customers – if anyone has experience or ideas, I’d love to hear them.

So back to the lack of marketing action. Not only did it result in lack of sales, but the old enemy doubt has started creeping in and whispering various ugly thoughts. I know they are not true and that Isa will one day hit the big screen, but it’s demotivating. So it’s time I kill them dead with the next big marketing effort.

For this new experiment, I chose to do a solid 5-day free giveaway of Shizzle on Kindle. It will be on 11-15 April, inclusive and I have the following promos planned, some with companies I have not tested before. I will update the list below as confirmations come in, and, as usual, I will update the Super Duper List with the actual numbers, once the promos are completed.

11 April: Reading Deals – $15.

12 April: Kindle Nation Daily – $99.

13 April: eBookasaurus – free; Manybooks – $25; AskDavid – free.

14 April: AskDavid – free (they tweet multiple times).

15 April: none.

Submitted, awaiting confirmation:

  • AskDavid
  • eBooks Habit
  • eReader News – sold out.
  • Free Kindle Books and Tips
  • Ignite your book – not sure if my submission was successful
  • Readcheaply
  • Zwoodle books

Fingers crossed – I hope to get to #1 in Free Bestseller List in one of the categories. Will let you know what happens!

 

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How to make Goodreads giveaway widget work on WordPress.com

Have you tried and failed to include Goodreads Giveaway widget on your WordPress.com site? Have you tried reading forums, only to find that the reason for it is that Goodreads uses Java or whatever else WordPress.com doesn’t allow? Oh, good, so I’m not the only one…

I was so frustrated with this previously, that I created a work-around using an image widget. I was happy with that for a while, but the image suggested that only few people have requested my book, when in actuality it was 1,699 over 2 weeks! I have just started a new giveaway, and already over 350 people have requested a copy, in less than 15 hours!

So I found a different work-around. Cause I just don’t take “no” for an answer and cause I feel omni-potent, having learned the very basics of HTML. Also, probably, cause I’m Russian-born, and we’ve been known to fix space stations with hammers. In movies, mind you, but that’s probably not that far from the truth.

WARNING: my method is equivalent to smashing the widget with a hammer. If you are a programmer, avert your eyes…

To start with, you need to get the code, which is available on your giveaway page:

Giveaway code

Then you need to create a new text widget in WordPress.com, copy and paste the Goodreads html code into its content window. Unfortunately, this is what it will look like on your website:

Giveaway widget before deletions

Ugh, right? Enough to make you want to give up…unless you are willing to keep smashing the widget playing with code until you figure out what needs to be deleted. Feel free to play yourself, or follow these simple steps:

STEP 1: delete all of this code from the beginning of the code script, up to and including this bit:
.goodreadsGiveawayWidgetEnterLink:hover {
color: #181818;
background-color: #F7F2ED;
border: 1px solid #AFAFAF;
text-decoration: none;
}

Have a look at the picture above – it is basically the naked HTML that was visible above the “Goodreads Giveaway” title.

STEP 2: delete the very end of the script:

<a class=”goodreadsGiveawayWidgetEnterLink” href=”https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_choose_address/168663″>Enter Giveaway</a>
</div>
</div><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/168663″>https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/168663</a&gt;

That’s the link to the actual entry form. Unless you want to keep it, but I prefer the cleaner look, which goes to the giveaway page.

STEP 3: play with the code! For example:

A. I found the “text-align: center” and changed it to “text-align: left” to match my other widgets.

B. Clicking on the picture took you to the book page (with giveaway button underneath). I wanted it to point directly to the giveaway page – so I found the page I wanted, copied the url, then found the following bit of code in the second paragraph and carefully replaced the http address with the preferred one:

highlighted code

That’s it! Once you are happy with the way it looks, move the widget to the desired position, and voila! It looks great in my sidebar now.

Have fun!

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Best Goodreads Giveaway yet – #24 on Most Requested list!

I still can’t believe it! My second giveaway for Shizzle, Inc lasted two weeks and it was requested by 1,699 people – enough to make it onto the front page of the Goodreads Most Requested list, and even climb up to #24 (there are 30 on the first page). Thank you all who’d entered – especially those who answered my plea on Twitter earlier today, when it was 37 requests or so away from making it to the front page. Amazingly, nearly 300 people requested it today alone.

As promised in the post about the results of the first giveaway, here is the comparison of the two:

Goodreads giveaway 2 results

I have added a new column to Shizzle Goodreads giveaways spreadsheet, to track how many followers I get – I was not paying attention to that number before, big mistake! I have not filled in the total cost to me – which will be huge, since the winner is in Romania and I have to get the book there within 4-6 weeks.

Also, I had a lot of fun checking my book stats:

Shizzle stats on 24 Jan 16

Did you know you can look up this chart for any book on Goodreads? It’s in the top right corner of each book’s page – look for “stats”. Just today, 175 people added it to their “to read” shelves!

So, what did I learn from comparing (ahm, staring at the charts) the two giveaways? My data seems to confirm that:

  1. You should open the giveaway to the entire world. Interestingly, the second giveaway started slower, but had more daily adds in “the middle”, the normally dead time.
  2. It is better to have two short giveaways than one long one. Heck, my short one doubled the performance of the long one! Any guesses why? Is it because it was open to all countries?
  3. I have another guess – it is actually better to give one copy than multiple. I know, I know, everybody says to give as many as you can, but I spent hours looking at most requested and least requested books, and I have a gut feeling that giving multiple copies (some people give away 25!) creates a feeling that the book is not that special. Giving one, and preferably autographed, copy creates the opposite effect – that you are competing for something rare and special.

Another thing I’d learned from looking at other people’s giveaways, that they don’t do one, or even two of those – some of the very popular titles have been on practically constant giveaways. I’m about to schedule another one, and want to test one of the factors – I’m thinking another two weeks, all countries, one copy, but this time unsigned. Does the word “AUTOGRAPHED” have any effect on the numbers?

I will let you know in about three weeks!

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Marketing blitz reveal – so how did Robin Read, Indie Book Promo, and Book Gorilla perform?

Hi, everybody!

Hope your Thanksgiving was great – I didn’t get any turkey down here, in Australia, but Shizzle, Inc did get to #9 on Amazon’s Satire Bestseller list! Not quite the #1 that I was hoping for, but hey! Single digits!

I couldn’t be happier. Not everything went according to the plan, but a negative result is also a result, as scientists say, and you get to benefit from all my experiences, whether good or bad.

To remind you, I was testing three companies over three days, and the results are as follows:

  1. Robin Reads – 26 November. Cost: $25. Sales on the day: 19
  2. Indie Book Promo – 27 November. Cost: $25. Sales on the day: 3.
  3. Book Gorilla – 28 November.Cost: $50. Sales on the day: 46.

These numbers are quite disappointing, especially when the previous $25 promo with eReader news resulted in 63 sales and covered the cost. It could be that it’s not a good idea to advertise over a major holiday, especially the Black Friday. I might give RR and BG another try, although I’m completely disappointed in Indie Book Promo – I have contacted them and they promised to send me some stats, although their attitude was that they are a different model to an email blast, and that’s just that. Well, I have not seen any evidence that they’ve made a dent on the day or today, so I will take an email blast with results that I can see any day. In the future, I will not bother with any website banner advertisements, seems that a targeted email is the only way to get people to notice.

Back to the numbers. In order to recoup my $100 investment, I should have sold at least 286 copies, so the 68 total sales mean a loss of $76.20. It’s actually a little better than that, because alongside the sales, there’s been a major spike in KENP pages read:

Sales on 1 Dec

So far it looks like the promo resulted in at least 1,561 extra pages (and hopefully more in the near future!). At roughly half-cent per page, this amounts to another $7.80 or so, so the total loss is currently at $68.40. Hopefully it will continue to reduce as people keep on reading. And if it’s one of you – please, please post a review! I’m up to 18, but it takes 25 reviews to advertise with some of the marketing sites I want to try.

In addition to the three mailouts, I’ve used the blitz as an excuse to continuously report on the sales rank and sales numbers. That resulted in crazy Twitter activity – here are my “impressions” for the week:

Twitter impressions

Even better – I have gained almost two thousand followers over this past week! The snowball effect is clearly happening, just not so much in sales 🙂

I have put the price back to $2.99 and have applied to advertise with Book Bub, but they’ve turned down my $140, which is a pity – rumor has it that authors normally at least make their money back. This means I’m about to put the price back to $0.99 and blast Twitter with the announcements 🙂

Speaking of all the marketing sites I want to try, have a look at the The Most Super-Duper, Exhaustive, Comprehensive, and Current Listing of Free and Paid Book Advertising Websites and Ideas, which has been updated with even more sites. I have not given up on paid advertising – you are free to draw whatever conclusions you want from my data, but I see it as investing in my brand. The upcoming blitz/full-on war is as follows:

  • 5 December – second chance for Bargain Booksy. They were nice enough to give me $25 credit for the disappointing YA audience promo, so I’m trying the chicklit audience. Cost – $70 (minus the $25 credit).
  • 5-6 December – applied to Read Cheaply. Not sure if this will work, as they want a limited-time offer and Shizzle, Inc has been on sale for many weeks.
  • 7-8 December – Read Free. Cost: free!
  • 9 December – Free Kindle Books and Tips. Cost – $25.
  • 11 December – Reading Deals. Cost: free!
  • 12 December – BookHearts. Cost – $5.
  • 14 December – eBook Lister. Cost – $25.
  • 15 December – BookSends. Cost – $30.
  • 17 December – Digital Book Today (Deal of the Day). Cost – $30.

Let’s see what that does! Ka-boom!

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

Matthew FitzSimmons himself stops by to explain the mystery of Short Drop reviews!

It was late last week when I posted Riddle me this! – a question about how it could be possible for a book to have a ton of reviews before its release. The book in question was Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons, an overall #1 on Kindle, with 1,388 reviews at the writing of this post, and the release date of 1 December.

I was not the only one confused – the post generated quite a discussion and a number of hypothesis, but it was a consensus that the reviews were a result of the book getting picked up as Kindle First. Is this the first time you’ve heard of Kindle First? Well, that makes two of us.

Screenshot (26)

Visit Kindle First website to learn more. Just don’t get too excited if you, like me, are in Australia – for some reason it’s not available down under.

My post generated so much discussion, that I’d decided to post an update – Mystery solved, explaining how it was possible and asking if anyone knew how to get onto the program (which is probably impossible for self-published newbies). Imagine my surprise when I was scrolling through my Twitter notifications and a familiar name caught my attention:

Screenshot (27)

Whaaat? I jumped over to the blog, and there was the comment, waiting for approval:

Screenshot (28)

I have replied, of course, and had the balls to ask how he got to this point – and he replied! For reals:

Screenshot (29)

So there you go folks – a mystery solved, new lesson learned, and another proof that you should never, ever give up on your dreams. I’m off to do some writing. I hope you do the same.

 

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