Tag Archives: marketing

Storyteller UK competition is now OPEN!

I’ve had the calendar reminder for this since the last year and still almost missed it! Entries opened since 1 May, but luckily the competition remains open until 31 August 2018. What is it, you ask? It’s an opportunity to get your book professionally published, get a $20,000 pounds prize, and travel to London to be recognized in a special ceremony. Do I have your attention?

You can get all the details on the official entry page, but here are the main points:

  1. The book must be in English, previously unpublished. It goes without saying that it has to be your original work, although you could have a co-author.
  2. It must be published during the above entry period using Kindle Direct in electronic and paperback formats (you can also use CreateSpace). It HAS TO BE BOTH formats.
  3. The book must be enrolled in KDP Select during the entry period.
  4. You MUST use a special keyword when publishing (in metadata, the keywords you choose when setting up your book) – “storytellerUK2018” (without the quotes).
  5. You are not eligible if you live in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria or Region of Crimea. Also, the Competition and these Official Rules are void in Mexico, Brazil, Tasmania, Quebec and where prohibited by law, and are subject to applicable laws. Whatever that means.
  6. You can submit multiple books.
  7. Looks like porn or sexually explicit content would disqualify an entry.
  8. Your book could be as short as 25 pages.
  9. By entering, you do agree to enter into an exclusive publishing agreement. Do read the whole set of rules for more details.
  10. In addition to the $20,000, there are other prizes, including an Oasis for each finalist

It also looks like you may get additional exposure because the above entry page lists all the entries submitted and omg, I may actually finish that draft I got lying around. Or even write a new one, although the previous winners look to be very well made. Don’t know if that was before or after winning, though. All entries will be considered, even if you submit on the last day.

So what are you waiting for?

 

 

 

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Quick How-To: add fifty hashtags to your Twitter or Instagram post with just one click

Ok, so it’s more like one shortcut word rather than one click, but one click sounds better, right? And since adding fifty hashtags would constitute shameless self-promotion, I figured that a shameless title would suit. Not that I condone or advise adding fifty of them, but have you found yourself typing in the same hashtags over and over, making typos, or forgetting which ones you’d used before? Well, have I got a solution for you, which can be done in three easy steps!

The steps below are for iPhone, sorry Android users. You might need to look for “shortcuts” or something similar under the “settings”. You’re smart, you’ll figure it out.

Step 1. Open “Settings” and navigate to “General” > “Keyboards” > “Text Replacement”. It probably already contains a shortcut for OMG. Because OMG, your mind is about to be blown.

Step 2. Click on the “+” in the top right corner:

text replacement plus sign

Step 3.

This is the longest step, requiring some thinking. Technically, it’s two steps, but “in four easy steps” just didn’t sound good, sorry. See above, about the shamelessness and whatnot.

Anyway, you will see the following blank form:

text replacement blank

This is where you should pause and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What hashtags do you want to add? Ideally, you should already have a list of carefully researched hashtags that deliver the highest engagement. If not, don’t worry – you can always add and edit later. Put whatever hashtags you want into the “Phrase” window, separated by a space.
  2. What short but memorable word or abbreviation do you want to use as a shortcut? It has to be one word, no spaces. Type it into the “Shortcut” window.

Here’s one I’d prepared earlier:

text replacement

You can create as many as you want. For example, you might have separate ones for Instagram and Twitter. Or one for LOLs and one for your promo posts. You may want to make a list of “influencers” to annoy. You may even create a shortcut for your texts, something that you use often and don’t care to type every time, like “I told you this would happen” or “You left the garage door open. Again.” Whatever makes your life easier.

So how do I use this, you ask? Easy. The next time you need to spam the Internet, just type your chosen shortcut below the message and you will see the preview of the expanded phrase appear above the keyboard:

tag.jpg

Now press the “space” key and voila!

tag expanded

Depending on how many hashtags you want to add and your posting rate, you have just added anywhere between a day and a year to your life.

You’re welcome!

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Once again, BookBub delivers

If only I could have a BookBub every week…I could have a free lunch. It’s been seven hours and eight days since the International Feature promo ran in UK, Canada, Australia and India, and I’m still getting $10-15 of sales and reads per day. It has long since earned the $38 fee and even covered the $50 I wasted on running a simultaneous BookBub ad (don’t do those, but more on that later).

Here is the pretty graph:

BookBub results April 2018

While I’m very happy with the result, the number of free downloads is less than it was the first time around. Last year I got 5,094 downloads in the first three days, and this time it was 3,501 over the same time. Unfortunately, I did not include in the last year’s post the buy through, or basically what I sold as a result. Not to make the same mistake, here are the results over the last 8 days:

  1. Shizzle, Inc: 9 copies sold at $2.99 and just under 8,000 KENP. Approximate return of $58.
  2. Indiot: 2 copies sold at $2.99 and 2,900 KENP. Approximate return of $18.50.

I have also ran the BookBub ad for full-priced Indiot, spent $50 and sold 9 additional copies, at a loss of $32. So after all of that and $38 for the BookBub, I have made a total of $6.50! In the black, baby!

I could still make more, if KENP continues to move along. With the last BookBub I was wide, which did not pay, since I got hardly any sales through Smashwords. I also did not get to enjoy the sustained spike in KENP, as you can see above. I’m continuing to run an AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) ad and so some of KENP could be due to that, but the ad has been running for several months, and there were hardly any pages read before, an equivalent of maybe a copy per week. That’s one problem with AMS – you can’t tell when your ad and click results in a borrow.

I do have a theory – the book was $0.99 during the last few months and maybe, just maybe, not deemed “worthy” by KU owners. Now that it’s $2.99, maybe it looks like a better value to borrow on a KU plan? The only way to confirm that would be to check the stats a month from now, when there’s no chance that any sales or borrows are generated by the BookBub afterglow.

I have promised to write a post about AMS and will do so next – I’m on annual leave right now but not going anywhere, only painting walls and canvasses.  Writers need hobbies too.

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I got another BookBub!!!

Oh, it’s nice to be back out in the sunshine of possibilities and hope! And how could I not feel sunny after winning the equivalent of self-published lottery for the second time in 13 months! I was writing the “thanks to Arnold” post just a few days ago and mentioned that I have neglected my marketing efforts, one of which has been clockwork monthly submissions to BookBub. So I fired off another one, and when I got the email back I almost deleted it on autopilot before realizing that they have accepted Shizzle, Inc for another BookBub International Promo. The last time I had almost 6K copies downloaded over 3 days, vs BookBub’s own estimate of 2.5K. This time they are telling me that on 2 April it will be sent to 250,000 subscribes and they estimate about 5K downloads. All at the cost of $38! The only bummer that I am yet to get the coveted US mailout.

By the way, this means Shizzle, Inc will be free in all Amazon stores 1-5 April, so why not download a copy for yourself 🙂

I will let you know the results of this promo, this is just a reminder for myself and all to persist – set a monthly calendar reminder to submit to BookBub and just don’t give up. I have submitted Shizzle, Inc nine times before I got the first one and an additional eight times to get the second one.

Good luck!

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Thank you, Arnold.

Hi everybody.

So, ahm, how’s everyone? I know…I don’t write, I don’t call. I post a motivational message full of plans and commitments and then proceed to fall off the face of the Earth. I’m sorry.

I do have excuses, plenty of them. Shortly after that last post my father died, which was a huge shock to my whole family. The Iron Man had a nagging cough that twenty doctors couldn’t diagnose or cure, but nobody expected him to just be gone in a blink of an eye. I wanted to post something when it happened but just couldn’t find the right words. Instead, I jumped into IVF, something that I have meant to do for over a year, but didn’t have the guts. When that didn’t work, I went on a shopping spree – well, not a spree per se, I only bought one house. While the bills piled up, I continued working in my awesome new job, which was slowly killing me with stress.

It shouldn’t come as a shock then, that as of last week, and probably for many months prior, I was not happy. Not the entire time, mind you – I was riding a rollercoaster of ups and downs, the bumpiest few months yet. I’ve done so much over those months, including tons of writing, except none of it was for fun. Plenty of reports, emails, and responses to customers, but not one sentence for the new book or the blog. I have even let the twitter feed die. I have not run a single promotion (except for “always on” Amazon Marketing Services, which I have to write about next). As a result, the book sales have been pitiful, yet my career was going stronger than ever. I could almost see the vortex forming, at the end of which I would be promoted to the next, even more stressful level. That would mean a full stop to my writing dreams, but what options did I have when I became an owner of a house and a mother to a frozen embryo?

The only thing that has been consistently awesome throughout those months was my relationship. Josh has helped me manage all of the above by putting a coffee  into my blind hand every single morning so that I could start yet another stressful day, packing a lunch for me so that I could stay at my desk, and making dinners so that I could crash on the couch.  I do wash dishes and massage him, I’m not completely spoiled, but it didn’t seem enough to show him how special his constant care made me feel. So when I saw that Arnold Schwarzenegger was flying to Melbourne to host bodybuilding events and speak at a business summit, I knew I had to get tickets. I love Arnie too, but mostly for his blockbusters. I didn’t expect to gain anything from the talk, other than a few happy snaps of Josh smiling ear to ear.

It turns out I have a lot more in common with Arnie than our respective, too-easy-to-make-fun-of accents. We have both left our respective countries for the greener pastures of the US. We share the same drive to see how much we could lift, both physically and figuratively. Yet listening to him made me realize that lately, I have lost the lust for life and that spark that would drive me to persist in the face of overwhelming odds. That was the first epiphany of the evening.

The second one came when Arnold mentioned that early on he had invested his bodybuilding winnings into real estate with the sole purpose of providing him with income when he started to pursue his acting career. The steady flow of cash enabled him to only choose the roles he wanted (yes, I know, that means he wanted Hercules in New York. Maybe that was before the rent started coming in). And that’s when I had my second epiphany.

I’ve been working so hard for the last few years, trying to squeeze writing in the few empty spaces in the sleep-eat-work-repeat cycle. I have taken five months off that rat race and it enabled me to complete the second book, but it also wiped out my long service leave (I’m once again sorry to Americans for even mentioning such a luxury). It will take about seven years of spinning the hamster wheel before I can do it again. Other authors have replaced the office work hamster wheel with writing hamster wheel, producing a book each month to make a living, but I just can’t do it. There has to be another way.

Like Arnie, I have invested in real estate. Unfortunately, it only tied me closer to the office desk. I have also dreamed about how I’m going to write a bestseller while on maternity leave, J.K. Rowling style, but that dream is quickly dissipating too. The only answer left is to build some kind of business that would be flexible enough to give me the money I need to continue eating regularly and the time I need to be creative. The only question remained, what is that business?

I thought of leveraging even more debt to buy a franchise, but that idea was quickly poo-pooed by the family committee. I thought of getting a similar but less stressful job, but it seems like more of the same and could be even worse if I got a nasty boss. Then I remembered how much I love to invent stuff. Did I tell you about the time I invented the new and improved Velcro? I used this in Shizzle, Inc, but that did happen to me. One day, about fifteen years ago, I bought two flexible pet hair brushes on sale. They got stuck together in the shopping bag, the rubber bristles perfectly sliding in between bristles on the other brush. When I pulled them apart, I had this flash of an idea to miniaturise them to make new Velcro that didn’t rely on fragile loops. I drew the picture in an idea book I keep to this day, but I was poor and insecure and I didn’t pursue it. About a year or two later, Velcro came out with Poster Strips and made millions. I made nothing, other than the joke for my book.

So what am I going to invent now, you ask? Color Post-Its? Or a new Miracle Mop? Not quite, although it’s a bit of a “better mouse trap” improvement on an existing product. In euphoria following Arnold’s talk, I have already invented a new adult toy. Not the kind you’re thinking! More of a gag gift – it’s funny (I think) and it could take off (I think). I wish I could tell you what it is, but I’m afraid Velcro might find out about it so I will wait until I apply for a trademark, which should be in a matter of weeks. This time around I have a bit of money and a lot more gumption, so let’s see what happens.

Meanwhile, I will be posting blogs on my experience, mainly so that I don’t forget how I did things, and so that I am accountable to myself. I have a lot to do:

  1. Trademark the concept. I have done some research already and will begin by trademarking in Australia via Early Start service, then adding China and USA. No lawyers. Wish me luck!
  2. Develop a prototype – I have drawn up the idea and have contacted several manufacturers via Alibaba, who are willing to develop a prototype for about $150USD.
  3. Market research, for which I need the above prototype. My limited research with drawings has had great feedback – everyone wants this toy! They are my friends, though, so I will need to figure out other ways to understand the market potential. One of them may be via this blog.
  4. Website. I have already bought two domains and I know some basics from running this blog, but this time around I need a website with a shopping cart so it will be a challenge.
  5. Marketing. I already know some basics, but I will need to take it to a whole new level. I have already enrolled in a couple of webinars and will read a pile of books, which I will review here.

So there I go, on a pursuit of passive income that will allow me to write whatever I please. Wish me luck.

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#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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Mr. Hue finally comes to life

Well, sort of.  I have not sold the movie rights, at least not yet. But as promised, here’s the result of the last Crash Test Drafts event. Note that the actor had just one hour to rehearse the monologue, that’s why he has the text in his hand.

If anyone lives in Melbourne, I highly recommend connecting with Crash Test Drafts on Facebook, either as a writer, director or writer. I have learned a lot from the judges’ feedback, and surprisingly most of it from the feedback given to other writers. The one bit of advice that really stuck with me was that we as writers have to make the reader care about what’s happening to the characters, care about what they are going through, and why. Elicit a response. The most intricately plotted novel would fail with flat characters.

The next Crash Test Drama event is on 3 June, so there’s still time to submit your play or excerpt. And if you are not in Melbourne, why not start your own?

Next on my list of promises was a stand-up routine. I have not done that yet. Because I’m scared, that’s why. But I will.

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Storyteller UK competition and why Shizzle, Inc is no longer free

UPDATE: please note that the book has to be published between 20th February and 19th May 2017, so Shizzle, Inc is ineligible. However, I can still publish my collection of short stories (the prequel “This is Why”) by 19 May and enter it.

Shizzle, Inc is now back to $2.99USD, and it’s the Storyteller UK competition to blame. That, and partly the negative reviews that come from readers grabbing a freebie without even reading the blurb. Oh, and the fact that in June I’m going to pitch it to a dozen publishers and a $2.99 book may look better than a free one. Lastly, because I will try to get Bookbub for the US and hope discounting a book to free temporarily will get it more attention.

Wait, slow down, what’s that Storyteller UK competition you’re talking about? Glad you’ve asked! Let me take a breath…

Do you have a self-published book in Kindle Select and available in print format? Well then, if you just add “StorytellerUK2017″ as a keyword, your book will be featured in a list of entries to win a $20,000 pounds! That’s $24,936USD, at least at the moment. Interested? Then visit Kindle Storyteller page for more details. Hurry, it’s open only until 19 May 2017!

Good luck!

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Thinking outside the book cover

I’ve had not one but two completely new and possibly brilliant ideas and I have two brilliant people to thank for them. If they work, they will help me sell more books, but more importantly, they will be the two new shots of adrenaline I need to keep going. In this preoccupation with trying to sell books and land a publishing contract, I’d forgotten that there are other creative ways to express myself while getting my name “out there.” At least one of them is comedy-specific, but I hope they make you think outside of the confines of the book covers.

The credit for the first idea goes to Josh. He’s about to get up on stage for the first time in twenty years and try stand-up comedy again. He’d done it in his youth and had some success, but ultimately had to stop because the experience was so stressful and literally gut-wrenching. He’s been talking about an open mike night at the bar around the corner for nearly two years, and now that he has a looming deadline, he wants me to do it with him. I’ve said “no” before because while I love comedy, I feel that my calling is to write it, not perform it and because I don’t have any standup material to perform. But for some reason today, maybe because it’s so stinking hot and my brains are melting, it suddenly seemed like a great idea. First of all, I have tons of material – two books worth of it. All I have to do is take the one-liners I’ve been tweeting and put them together with some intro and transitions. Secondly, if I started doing that with any new material, still in draft, I can get instant feedback on what is funny and what may fall flat. I have just over a week to put together a five-minute routine, and I’m so doing it. There will be video evidence posted shortly thereafter and I hope it prompts me to do more open mikes in the future.

The second set of credits goes to my friends, a lovely creative couple who have genuinely “made it” by transitioning from acting and theater directing in their spare time to now running a successful children’s theater company. They are also involved in a monthly event in Melbourne called Crash Test Drama, which brings together scriptwriters, directors, and actors. Imagine this – as an actor, showing up one Saturday morning, receiving your one-sentence audition piece, practicing it for about fifteen minutes, and then getting up on the stage in groups of four or five, for an opportunity to say that sentence in some novel way. A group of writers and directors would then cast you (if you are lucky) in one of 10-minute plays chosen for the day. You’d have about an hour to rehearse and then would have to perform the play in front of the others (you’re allowed to read from the script). Talk about pressure!

I’d participated in Crash Test Drama before, but only as an actor. It didn’t occur to me to submit an excerpt from Shizzle, Inc, until a few weeks ago, when we were having a couples dinner out. We were talking about the next event, and for some reason, maybe because of the relentless heat or too many margaritas, it suddenly seemed like a really good idea to submit an excerpt. I’ve just submitted two – the scene in which Isa and Dad argue about science, housing market, and computers before he helps her with Yomama merger, and the one in which Mr. Hue spouts his dubious business advice while Isa tries to come up with a blame strategy for her failures. I should know by the end of March if I get to be on the other side of the audition game on 22 April.

What do you think? Are there any other ways to blow off humor steam? I’ve been doing it in meetings, too, but the problem is that I can’t follow a laugh with “Oh, you liked that? Then buy my book!” And that’s exactly what I plan on doing at the end of my standup routine. I won’t try to sell it to actors, they are notoriously broke, but in my previous dealings with Crash Test Drama, I was once approached by a TV program director. She wanted to know how she could find me if she ever needed Ukrainian actors instead of Australians trying to fake a Russian accent, and nothing ever came of it, but you never know. This time she may want to option Isa and the gang for a pilot. It could happen.

Hope this prompts a brilliant idea of your own.

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Drumroll…BookBub results! Spoiler…they are awesome!

I’m not one to wish that every day was Christmas or my birthday, but I wouldn’t mind reliving the 6 March 2017 a few times. Well, 7 March, actually, because even though my BookBub promo was international, in Australia the email didn’t go out until 1am on 7 March. I spent the entire prior day checking the stats and telling myself to just calm the hell down, while worrying that something went wrong. I didn’t need to worry – when I woke up the next morning, I could see that long-awaited spike. Over 2,000 copies were already downloaded in those first six or so hours, and the green line keeps moving since. It has completely dwarfed my prior stats, which were in 5-10 per day range (without advertising). Isn’t it beautiful?

That’s a total of an amazing 5,094 downloads over the first three days. The breakdown per country is as follows:

  • UK: 2,698
  • Canada: 1,172
  • Australia: 754
  • India: 329
  • The US: 139

Three things surprised me: first of all, that more than twice as many books were downloaded compared to the BookBub’s own estimate of 2,500. Secondly, even though the US was excluded from the promo, somehow 139 copies were downloaded via the amazon.com site. Thirdly, that despite including Kobo and Nook in the promo, I had no spike whatsoever in my Smashword sales. Maybe the data is delayed, and I will check again in a week, or maybe I should just concentrate on Amazon.

I’d spent the last three days marveling at the stats and trying to decide what to do next: should I make Shizzle, Inc full price and hope a few people actually buy it? Should I pull it from wide distribution and enroll in KU? Should I finish the third book in the series instead of going down the path of the new one? After much deliberation of myself, I kept everything as is and applied for the US promo in hopes that the excellent result will convince BookBub to give me a fair go. I’d also submitted Indiot as a $0.99 deal. I should know in about a week’s time if either deal is accepted.

Meanwhile, I’d updated my Super Duper List of Book Marketing with the results. When I first announced that after 18 months of trying I was offered a BookBub promo deal, a few people on Twitter mentioned how expensive BookBub is. Well, just compare the cost and the result to anything on that list – no other company comes close. If you are so lucky as to get a deal with them, just take it. Take out your credit card and just ask “How much?”

You won’t regret it.

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