Tag Archives: ebook

Happy belated birthday to Shizzle, Inc!

With all the recent health drama going on, I completely forgot that on 4 September was the one-year anniversary of Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1) hitting the Kindle “shelves.” My brain is slowly returning to its usual programming after I finally heard the three sweetest words in the English language – “it was benign.” While I’m facing several more weeks of tough recovery – I still can’t stand up straight or walk for more than a few minutes at a time – it’s nothing compared to the agony of anticipation and anxiety.

I’ve been a published author for just over a year. How crazy. I have a bottle of champagne in my fridge, which will pop as soon as I’m off the cocktail of painkillers. Too bad I can’t have a sip right now, because I do have quite a few reasons to celebrate. I transitioned from a decade of dreaming about being a published author to having two books self-published. I took a massive five months off work to pursue this writing dream. I started #ComedyBookWeek and saw the inaugural event soar with 117 participating titles. I have made lots and lots of connections with other authors, have learned from them, and shared my experiences in turn.

Speaking of experiences, few things compare to the joy ride of getting your first book published. The high of seeing it on Amazon. The low of pathetic sales. The high of doing something about the low sales, be that paid advertising or trick after marketing trick. The low of realizing this is one of the worst ROIs you’ve ever had. The high of the first 5-star review. The low of the first (and second, and third) 1-star review. It doesn’t end, and it doesn’t get old, and eventually you learn to accept it for what it is. The learning curve is very steep in that first year, and I have learned lots, namely:

  1. I have improved as a writer as I continued to work on the second novel, so it’s been difficult (but necessary) to let go of the first book and stop trying to fix it. I did hire the fourth (!) editor to clean out Australianisms, but will not worry about it again. I will move on and write more, because Ana’s opus is yet unwritten.
  2. I have learned A TON about marketing a book. From cover design to launching, to which paid advertising sites work, and which don’t. If you haven’t seen my Super-Duper List of Book Advertising Sites, check it now. It may save you a few bucks. I haven’t hit NY Times list yet, but while Shizzle, Inc sold 12 copies in it’s first week, Indiot sold over 100 in the same amount of time.
  3. Speaking of sales, Shizzle, Inc sold a total of about 800 copies in its first 8 months, at $3.99, then $2.99, and finally $0.99. Its permafree now and thousands of free copies have been downloaded (I wish I kept a better eye on the numbers, as I can only look back at the last 90 days). It was hard work to push these sales along – I have not made my money back on all of my paid advertising experiments, and even the free downloads have withered down to nothing over the last few weeks, without ads. Just for fun, here are the last month’s charts: Shizzle, Inc free downloads shizzle-on-12-sept …and Indiot paid sales indiot-on-12-sept
  4. Going permafree was a difficult, but exciting decision, and one I still stand by. No, it’s not helping to pay back the investment, but Shizzle, Inc now has 73 reviews, and I am inching my way towards that elusive BookBub promo. Indiot is not doing too shabby, either, with 12 reviews in its first two months of existence.
  5. Speaking of reviews, I’ve learned to accept them as they are. At first, the 1-star reviews hurt so much that I’d even written A Simple Guide to Overcoming 1-star Review Grief. Now I just make sure that I read those bad reviews only once. The 5-star reviews, however, I read again and again. Kid you not, some of the early positive reviews I’ve read at least twenty times, and will undoubtedly read again. They have been a healing balm and a fuel to keep me going.
  6. I’ve learned that moving a book in a brick-and-mortar store is practically impossible. It was a thrill to see my book on a bookstore shelf and then into the bookstore’s front window, but I sold just two copies that way. From now on, I will concentrate on electronic book sales, until one of the big publishing houses offers to take this chore off my hands.
  7. Social media. Oh, boy, what have I not tried with social media? I went wide, and now there are dead accounts on just about every platform. My main lesson there was not to spread myself thin and to concentrate on just a couple of venues, which are this blog and Twitter for me. I did learn a lot about Goodreads, but Found Instagram and Facebook to be too much of a chore with little return.

This was an intense year, and I could probably go indefinitely with the dot-points, but I think the most important thing is that I’m still here and still kicking, despite now being well aware of the realities of self-publishing. It’s difficult, it’s often discouraging, expensive, time-consuming, and confusing. Good thing that it’s also liberating, empowering, educating, and inspiring. I’ve been a self-published author for one year, which is both a long time and not nearly long enough to count any chickens yet. I like to play this game sometimes, where the future me has something to say in terms of advice or encouragement. I’d like to think that Ana 2020 would thank me for not giving up on this dream the way I gave up on sculpture or breeding rare fish (okay, that one was a doozy).

Happy Birthday, Shizzle, Inc. I’m so glad to have you in my life.





Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

My Never Ending Journey to Find Success with What I Love – guest post by Bryan Caron

My blog is supposedly about self-publishing, although that’s just the current flavor of my personal journey in pursuit of happiness. It has also become a platform through which I’ve “met” other writers and creatives actively pursuing their various original dreams and ideas. It has been a pleasant surprise to discover just how supportive these people are of me and each other, even though we’ve never met, and some I only know by their pet avatars.

So I was more than happy to host this guest post by Bryan Caron, who has generously volunteered his time to beta-read Indiot and provide thorough, constructive feedback. I was even happier when I saw the title of his guest post. It’s a look into the world of someone willing to take a risk to pursue a creative dream.

Before I get to the post, let me tell you a little more about Bryan.Bryan Caron_small

He is a published author of several books, with the latest one, The Spirit Of…, coming out today:

Spirit Of - Front Cover

Bryan is also a graphic designer – which, I’m sure, comes in handy. Below are some of the samples of his graphic work, more of which you can find on his website Phoenix Moirai.

Asylum Teaser Poster2    Cazo Dance Flyer - Front Release Postcard Buy

And now, without further adieu, please put your hands together for Bryan’s post!

My Never Ending Journey to Find Success with What I Love

For anyone who was a product of the 80s, you may remember having seen (and adored) The NeverEnding Story. For those who aren’t familiar with the movie, or for those who don’t remember, there’s a scene in the film where Atreyu (the warrior chosen to fight the Nothing threatening the land of Fantasia) and his horse, Artex, are caught in the Swamps of Sadness, where “everyone knew that whoever let the sadness overtake him would sink into the swamp.” Unfortunately, Artex almost immediately succumbs to the sadness. At this point, Atreyu might have given up. Artex was his only companion. Without him, Atreyu is alone, afraid and all but hopeless. But he doesn’t let his grief get the best of him. He soldiers on, and though his travel through the swamp continues to be rough and arduous (almost leading to his demise), his struggles are eventually rewarded.

I bring this up because the scene is a great metaphor for pursuing and finding success in doing what you love. The road can be very hard, at times lonely, and can sometimes leave you feeling hopeless. This is especially true if you’re an artist of any kind — whether it be as a painter, a musician or, like me, a writer. The number of rejections; the long hours of spilling your soul onto a canvas, never knowing whether anyone will ever appreciate it; days that go by without any sales; the worries that come with your everyday obligations and responsibilities to yourself and others; the sacrifices you have to make to scrounge up enough money to pay your mortgage — these can all be aspects of the Swamp of Sadness, seeking to envelop you to the point of giving up on your dreams and falling back on a heavily-traveled road most people find easier to traverse. But, when you have the strength to fight through it and believe in yourself, your talent and your passion, you will more than likely be rewarded in some way. Whether that’s monetarily or simply knowing that your words (or art or music) has affected someone so much that it helped them get through a tough period in their life, until it happens, we have to keep believing we have something to offer.

For me, pursuing a profession in writing and art is something I won’t ever stop doing. I’ve told this story before, but the first time I knew writing was what I wanted to pursue was when one of my English teachers assigned us to answer the question from “The Lady or the Tiger”. One page is all we needed, but the next day, I had seven college-ruled pages ready to hand in. From that day on, writing assignments that let me stretch my imagination were my absolute favorite assignments in school.

The road to achieving this feeling on a daily basis has been a long and winding one. I am obsessed with movies, and my college years started with a failed attempt at film school. But that experience led me to pursue an art degree, only to end up earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing, and then return to school to gain my Associates in Computer Graphic Design (you know, to pay the bills), and use that to learn filmmaking and editing on the fly. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. We may never know the why, but our choices have meaning, whether it be to gain knowledge, learn a lesson, achieve a goal or grow stronger, everything that happens teaches us something and pushes us forward. Every step of my career has been frightening, exciting and at times overwhelming. But through it all, I’ve continued to grow, both artistically and professionally.

I don’t have to make millions of dollars with my art, but being able to write every day and make a decent living where I don’t have to stress everyday over paying my bills — that would be a dream come true. I haven’t found it yet, but I can’t see myself giving up just because it may seem easier to do. After all, the hardest things in life are often the most rewarding. When I decided to jump ship from the 9 to 5 cubicle to start my own business, I had very little money in my bank account and had almost no idea what I was doing. I still have very little money in my bank account, and am still finding my footing in regards to building the business, but the whole thing has been amazingly freeing, both personally and creatively. Now I get to design, write and film wherever I want and on my schedule (for the most part — there are still client expectations and obligations that I need to consider, but you get my point). It’s been two years since I started Phoenix Moirai and though I have to force myself to step out of my comfort zone almost every day, it’s been very rewarding thus far, and I am very much looking forward to what the future holds.

There have been a lot of technological advancements over the twenty years since graduating high school that have led to various opportunities I wouldn’t have had had I given up early on after receiving nothing but the word “No” from publishers and agents. Looking back, I probably wasn’t ready to achieve the success I was seeking at the time. And let’s face it… reading some of the work I wrote back then with the knowledge I have now, yeah, I can see why it was rejected. It wasn’t that it wasn’t any good; I just had a lot more to learn, and as I grew as a writer, experience gave me new insight. But between those first heartbreaking rejections and the excitement I still feel publishing a new novel of my own accord, I never stopped writing; I never stopped making films; I never stopped creating; I never stopped pursuing my dreams. Setbacks and failures are only failures when you let them hurt you instead of using them to move forward. Choosing to go into the graphic design field may have seemed like a step back for me, but doing so has opened so many doors in writing, film and design that I may not have found otherwise.

There’s a lot of noise out there nowadays. With Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and Instagram and Pinterest and platforms that allow anyone to publish a book, it’s hard to to be heard; it’s hard to find an audience; it’s hard to break through and get noticed. Should that stop me? No way. It just means I need to remain patient, continue writing, continue meeting new people like Ana, and keep marketing and getting the word out the best I can. Until then, I will continue to work hard at my craft, continue to build my business, design, write, make films and keep my held up high so that when Falkor finally finds me, I’ll be ready.



Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

How to make your book permafree in less than a day

Woo-hoo! Shizzle, Inc is finally perma-free!

In case you’re wondering what that means – basically, it will be free from now on, or until I change my mind, which has been known to happen. If you’re wondering why I’m so excited, well, let me tell ya…

First of all, I had no idea it will take so long. My understanding of the process was that you make the book available for free on Smashwords, then go to your Kindle edition, click on the “tell us about a lower price” link, provide a link to Kobo or Nook where it is free, and voila! When voila did not happen right away, I’ve asked peeps on the blog and Twitter to help me out by doing the same. Don’t know how many actually bothered to notify Amazon, but there was no voila in sight after two weeks of waiting. Finally, because I have no patience, and a pair the size of Texas, I did the unthinkable.

I emailed KDP and asked them to match the price.

I hear you, and your sharp intake of breath. After all, the Internet is full of advice on “loopholes” and how to stick it to the man/Amazon, who would surely suspend my book or do something equally nasty if they ever find out that I’m trying to loophole them out of their cut. But no – I don’t know if the fact that Indiot, the second book in Isabella Maxwell’s Escapades series is already available for pre-order, but KDP were cool with it. I got a courteous reply saying that they’ve confirmed that my book is available elsewhere for free, and that in 2-3 business days it will be free on Kindle as well.

It took two hours.

Yay for KDP Support! The second reason for why I’m bouncing in my chair is that after two weeks of waiting, searching the Internet for stupid advice (apparently putting the price up and dropping it down repeatedly has worked for some), and watching my dull, lifeless sales charts, I have liftoff. And boy, what a liftoff it’s been:

Screenshot (48)

What is really surprising, is that 427 copies were downloaded without any paid promotions whatsoever. I didn’t know when this was going to happen, so I’ve been waiting to schedule them after I knew for sure that KDP will match the price to zero. On the chart above, the left-side surge in free downloads of 600-1000/day had cost me $139. I don’t know if this current trend will continue, but so far I’m very happy with the result, which landed me in the top of all category charts:

First day of permafree

With the paid promos, I got as far as 111 Free in Kindle store, but basically in the same positions in all categories, so what does it matter? I would prefer for people to find me through a category, anyway – hopefully resulting in fewer random negative reviews.

So the new era has begun – moreover, I have now managed to formulate my promo plan in one simple sentence:

I will give away 100,000 free copies of Shizzle, Inc by the end of 2016.

I hope that will generate 2% of sale-through of Indiot, or about $4,000 in royalties. This goal will require some paid advertising, of course, but it no longer seems ridiculous, like it did after the first promo (at the same spending rate, 100,000 downloads would cost me $3,500). It will also depend on whether I manage to secure a BookBub run, and guess what – I have applied for it. Again.

Exciting times and exciting sales charts coming up!

(P.S. Thank you, my British colleagues, for pointing out that the price was not free on the UK site – apparently this is why I was told to wait for 2-3 business days. I’ll wait, but in the meantime, I’ve fired up another email to KDP.)


Filed under Self-publishing and marketing, Win a free book!

Give it away, give it away, give it away NOW!

How you guys doin’? I’m flying high – not only cause life on [read: near] the beach is sweet, but because my latest promo is doing even better than I expected. In my last post, I bemoaned the lack of sales, which was all my fault, anyway. All writing and no marketing makes Ana a poor-selling author. I didn’t moan for very long, though, before I decided to do something about it, namely stage a massive, promoted free giveaway.

The last time I made Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell escapades Book 1) free was in September, about two weeks after it was released. I didn’t advertise it, other than on the blog and Twitter, as it was intended to be just a thanks to my followers. With no sequel in sight, giving it away made no sense. Over the two days, about 150 people downloaded it.

This time around, the sequel is so close, I can smell it. Okay, so it still smells a bit raw, but at half-edited 63K words, I’m very close to the finish line. In fact, the plan is to pre-release it in just about a week! So I’m now ready to do what a bunch of authors have done before me – give away the first book in the series for free. I will make it permafree as soon as Indiot is available, but for now, I tried a KDP 5-day free giveaway.

I didn’t know what to expect, so I made an arbitrary goal of giving away 3,000 books over the whole period and sneaking my way into top 100 Free in Kindle store. I advertised it as follows:

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.

So what did I get for my investment of $139?

Well, it’s not even finished yet, but I’ve already given away 3,100 copies!

Screenshot (43)

Of course, a lot of people just stuff their Kindles with freebies, so I’m gonna assume that most of these copies will never be read. Of those that will, some will probably not get it and hate it – that’s just the risk I have to take. But then! There will be others, who will get hooked on Isa’s escapades and will buy the next installment at the full price of, say, $2.99. If it’s 10% of the above, I would make my money back, and then some. Will it work? I will let you know, of course…

And how about the rankings? I have a new addiction, a tracker tool supplied for free by Kindle Nation Daily:

KND tracker

You can see that Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell escapades Book 1) has come close, oh so close, but those thousands of free books were not enough. After this experiment and a lot of stalking of my competition, I am convinced that the only way to get onto the first page of Free Kindle Store is with BookBub. Trouble is, apparently everybody already knows that – the competition for promos with BookBub is fierce. So far I’ve applied twice and was rejected as many times, but from reading other people’s blogs, it seems that the ratio of applications to successful placements is close to 10:1. Those same people have reported anywhere between 20-100 THOUSAND giveaway copies as a result, so I just need to buckle up and keep trying. In the meantime, I’m thinking of printing this for my inspiration board:

Sales rank 108

I know that some of you are against giving your work away for free, and I completely understand why – common sense tells me not to give away something that cost me $3,000 and two years to make. But I slap it back down because the big picture demands that I do just that. Time will tell if it will pay off.

Hey, Ana Spoke from September 2016, what do you think? Have I made the right choice?



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

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:


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!



Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

January marketing update – Choosy Bookworm and BookHearts disasters, plus other fun facts

Hi, everyone, just a quick update on the book marketing companies I’ve tested in January. It was only a few, since I wanted to make sure that the results I was getting were due to a specific promo and not an overlap.

First off, let’s have a look at the sales. As you can see, Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell escapades Book 1) is back with Kindle Select, and can’t be happier about the additional action:

January sales

As usual, I’ve updated my Super-Duper, Exhaustive and Comprehensive List and the January highlights are below:

  1. BookHearts, a subsidiary of Choosy Bookworm, 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. See for yourself- 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. Makes me want to start a “blacklist”.
  2. On 14 January  it was BKnights via Fiverr turn. I paid $5, even though I saw mixed reviews. I got 4 sales and didn’t bother to ask why.
  3. On 16 January it was Choosy Bookworm. I got the “Guaranteed Feature” on sale for $19. Sold 11 copies. I contacted Jay, just like I did for BookHearts – no response. I can’t be more disappointed – blacklist it is!
  4. 19 January – I screwed up and did 2 giveaways. I will need to re-run and re-test Buck Books – the link is to their policies, but to apply to advertise you actually need to contact Jennifer directly on jennaputt@gmail.com. Claim to have 42,000 subscribers. Cost – $12. I also did eReader News Today again, at $30. Total sales were 44 on the day, plus about 2,000 pages read in the next few days.
  5. 31 January – Betty Book Freak. Cost: $12. Sales – zero (if you don’t count the pages read). To give Betty credit, she promptly refunded my money.
  6. 2 February – eBook Soda. Cost: $15. I got one sale. Once again, they refunded my money, so I will leave them in “try for yourself” category.

I have not scheduled any other promos yet, a bit burned out (it takes a lot of time) and also, this month I’m playing with Amazon pay-per-click promos. Ever wondered if it’s worth it, what to set as per-click price, and whether to use categories or associations with other products?

Results in a couple of weeks!


Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

Design for the free cover contest winner revealed!

Whew! I was quite a bit nervous when I started working on the cover for the Free Cover Design Contest winner – Amir Ghazi of The World of Horror. I mean, I love Stephen King just as much as every other person on this planet, but I can’t come up with a horrific image! Not unless it involves a cockroach in a soup or something…

I’m relieved to report that after a couple of mock-ups and a lot of back-and-forth discussion, I came up with a design that made Amir happy. Here it is, in paperback wrap and Kindle format:

The Nightmare wrap - final.jpgThe Nightmare Kindle version - final.jpg

And the best thing is, after the initial jitters, I had a ton of fun working on it! It was practically an addiction for a couple of days, I’ve learned new tricks, and can’t wait to start working on a final version of the cover for Indiot. Originally I was going to run this contest again in maybe six months, but now I think I might do it sooner – so if you are interested in submitting your pitch for a free design, sign up for my Don’t Miss It list.

Let me know what you think!


Filed under Win a free book cover!

Review of December’s marketing blitz –

I finally got a chance to update  The Most Super-Duper, Exhaustive, Comprehensive, and Current Listing of Free and Paid Book Advertising Websites and Ideas with the results of December’s online marketing blitz. As announced in the last update, the December’s blitz/full-on war plan was 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.

Since the picture is worth a thousand words, here are the results at a glance:

Screenshot (39)

And now, my opinions, in hopefully under a thousand words:

  1. Bargain Booksy. Once again, a disappointing 15 copies sold, although there was a big jump in pages read the next day. AMAZINGLY, though – after I’d contacted them again, they’ve refunded BOTH of my purchases. So only a net gain to me, although I kinda have a feeling I may not be welcome to advertise with them again…will try again in a while, when I have a sequel and advertise the first installment for free.
  2. Read Cheaply – I will have to test them again, as it appears I did not make it on the list – can’t find the confirmation email. proof you have to write everything down as it happens!
  3. Read Free – several copies sold! Hey, it was free, so they go onto my “good list”.
  4. Free Kindle Books and Tips – 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.
  5. Reading Deals – did not happen as I wanted to add links to other platforms, they’d asked me to reapply, and then did not have a slot. To be tested again.
  6. BookHearts – did not impress me, with 6 sales on the day at a cost of $5. I’m giving them another chance in January, to test if December was a bad month for eBooks.
  7. eBook Lister – I have contacted them to complain that the $25 payment only got me 3 sales. Not sure what happened, good thing I’m writing this update, because the issue slipped under the radar for me. Will update as to their response.
  8. BookSends – 22 sales on the day, but not enough at the cost of $30. Might give them another chance.
  9. Digital Book Today (Deal of the Day) – pathetic 8 copies sold at a cost of $30. has anyone had a good result with them? I had high hopes for this one. I have emailed them and they responded promptly, refunding $15, but claiming that my 40-60 sales per day with eReader News were probably because of other promos I had at the same time. Nope – I’m a researcher, so I know how to control factors (when I remember to do that…).

Here is what’s planned for January (so far, I will update this post as I make further plans, and as usual – will tweet live scores on @spokeana):

  1. 9 January – another chance for BookHearts, a subsidiary of Choosy Bookworm. Guaranteed feature, cost (on sale): $5. Not confirmed yet, although the payment has been made – they confirm on Fridays only. UPDATE: only 2 sales, a complete disappointment. After two emails it did turn out that they did not feature me on 9 January after all.
  2. 14 January – BKnights via Fiverr: only $5, mixed reviews.
  3. 16 January – Choosy Bookworm. Guaranteed feature, cost (on sale): $19. I tried to book it, but once I got to the paypal checkout, it reverted to $25. I’ve emailed them and was advised to “donate” $19, which I did. They confirmed the spot several days later.
  4. 18 January – BookHearts listed me in place of the earlier booking. I got only 5 sales.
  5. 19 January – I screwed up and did 2 giveaways. I will need to re-run and re-test Buck Books – the link is to their policies, but to apply to advertise you actually need to contact Jennifer directly on jennaputt@gmail.com. Claim to have 42,000 subscribers. Cost – $12. I also did eReader News Today again, at $30. Total sales were 44 on the day, plus about 2,000 pages read in the next few days.
  6. Read Cheaply – TBD.
  7. Reading Deals – TBD.
  8. Read Free – TBD.
  9. 31 January – Betty Book Freak. Cost: $12.
  10. 2 February – eBook Soda. Cost: $15.
  11. Kindle Nation Daily – sold out! Scheduled on 12 April.

In related news, the above graph makes me wish desperately to return to KU – I miss those pages! I will probably do this by the end of the month, so if you want to get Shizzle, Inc on Kobo, please do that now!

Looking forward to your comments and experiences. If you want to suggest an advertising site I have not yet tried, please do so!


Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

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.

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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:

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

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

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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.



Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

Mystery solved (I think) and a quick update on the marketing blitz

Hi, everyone,

Shizzle, Inc got up to #34 on Amazon’s Satire Bestseller list! If you are not following the live tweeting of my biggest marketing campaign to date, here is a quick recap:

  1. Robin Reads started strong, but was a disappointment at 19 sales, at a cost of $25.
  2. Indie Book Promo was a complete dud, at maybe 1 sale (I had 3 total, but 2 were from my constant tweeting about it).
  3. Book Gorilla is currently on fire!

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I will post a complete report on Monday. Wish me luck!

Now, I’d like to venture an explanation for the mystery surrounding the 1,200+ verified purchase reviews on a book yet to be released – as previously mentioned in Riddle me this!

First of all, I’d like to thank the following detectives:

  1. Nancy Glynn of Nancy Glynn – thank you for sharing the loophole allowing reviews on a yet-to-be-published book by “tricking” CreateSpace.
  2. Isabella Belucci of Isabella Belucci – thank you for sharing your experience reviewing and ARC (Advanced Review Copy) for another author.
  3. Mykl Walsh of Secret Agent Man – thank you for scouring the Internet for clues!
  4. Tim Vicary of Tim Vicary – thank you for checking the suspect’s Goodreads profile 🙂
  5. Prospero of Prospero’s Island – thank you for digging up an interview with the mention of Kindle First!

I did some research myself – and it all seemed to point to Kindle First. For example, all 1,200+ reviews have been posted during November, in line with Kindle First offering the book a month before its release on 1 December. For those not familiar with Kindle First – it is an offer of free or discounted bestsellers (I think just four of them a month), chosen by Amazon’s editors. I have searched madly for any clues on how to get on the list, but it seems to be either a secret or an impossible feat, even though most traditional publishers are currently not supporting it.

Any detectives want to take on this new mystery??


Filed under Self-publishing and marketing