KDP Select

Save the dates!

These last 9 days have been a roller coaster ride for me and I do love roller coasters, so I don’t mean it in a bad way. Ups, downs, but mostly ups since launching The Last Superhero on December 18 after a successful (at least to me) pre-order campaign.

I had debated whether or not to put The Last Superhero on pre-order since the moment I knew I was publishing it on December. KDP’s pre-order feature had been up and running for some time and the hive mind had a lot of information about it, especially this thread over at Kboards. I went back and forth with the idea, presented it to my editor, and we both came to the conclusion that talking publicly about a book that technically doesn’t exist yet doesn’t bode well with everyone. It’s mind bogging how quick people forget about stuff in this information-overloaded era and having a pre-0rder link while we worked on the last round of edits sounded like the best way to go; a place where we could direct people who showed interest about the book to and not have to rely on praying they didn’t forget how excited they were about it when they first heard the news. Also, it helped make it a bit more real for us… and a lot more nerve wracking.

I wrote blog posts. I ran an ARC copies Goodreads giveaway and a Rafflecopter one for signed copies. I made a Facebook event for the launch. I tweeted and FBed the hell out of it.

I’m not one of those authors with huge sales numbers so, for me, The Last Superhero has done reasonably well (27 pre-orders and a couple of sales trickling in daily). However, I know that with some more promo it can do a lot better.

In comes the Kindle Countdown Deal.

The Last Superhero is enrolled in KDP Select for the moment because I want to take advantage of both the countdown deals and the dreaded Kindle Unlimited. I don’t plan to keep it in Select forever so I’ll try to use it to my advantage while it’s there.

December 28th will be my 10th wedding anniversary. Yes, we’ve survived ten years together! And I thought it a great time to run a two day promo. I could go on about how the main characters resonate with my life but I already did that here. Needless to say, Giana and Steven, as well as Scarlett and Armand from my Caregiver Series, are May December romances, just like Hubby and I. Although, Steven’s 102, which could sound a bit hardcore but hey, he’s a superhero and they age slower so, yeah, age is only a number.

You’re over a hundred years old?” And you’re not a vampire!

Yes.”

Cool.”

Cool?”

Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting. And, well, you look better than most of the hundred-year-olds I’ve met.” And you definitely don’t shag like a hundred-year-old either.

That makes him laugh, lightens the mood, makes the flame on the candle sway with his wine-infused breath.

– Excerpt from Chapter 11

*ahem* The deal?

Oh, yeah, that.

The Last Superhero will be $0.99 on Dec 28, it’ll then go up to $1.99 on Dec 29 before settling back to its original price of $2.99 on Dec 30. This will only be happening on Amazon’s .com site. I’m trying to make it happen on the UK one too but I had to do a price change for that and I don’t know if it’ll be set for tomorrow.

Sites/services I’ve set promos with:

1. eReader Utopia

2. Awesome Gang

3. Just Kindle Books

4. Bargain Booksy

5. Bknights

1 and 4 I’ve used before while 2, 3, and 5 are new to me. I’ve found these sites through web searches, Kboards, and Lindsay Buroker’s awesome blog. I’m still trying to figure all this out since marketing isn’t my forte but I’m confident I’m on the right track, even if it’s only to give the book a bit of a ranking boost.

Another fantastic service I’ll be using is Booktastik, where TLS will be featured as a New Release on January 2nd.

There are other places I’d love to be able to feature the book (i.e. BookSends) but alas, it doesn’t have enough reviews to pass their submission requirements. Another one I want to try is BookBub but that’ll have to wait until the budget allows it (that if they don’t reject TLS once I can submit). This is why reviews are so important to authors. It’s not only a thing of validation, it’s a necessary evil for marketing and therefore, sales, and therefore, surviving as a scribbler in this big bad world.

Save the dates!

December 28 – The Last Superhero will be $0.99

December 29 – The Last Superhero will be $1.99

 

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Part 2 of Bye Bye KDP Select

Tonight I can write the saddest lines… No, not really.

Yesterday I wrote this post about Book 1 of my series leaving KDP Select behind after spending the last couple of days trying to publish it through NOOKpress, Kobo, Smashwords, Wattpad, and on the blog I started for the series, all this while writing page after page of data for my thesis (on self-publishing). I was exhausted and I’m saying this to try and justify how shitty that post was. Worst post I’ve ever written and it got a lot of attention so I’d like to rectify things with another post, written first thing in the morning and after a nice cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast.

I had been thinking a lot about how to market my books. Trying to get more attention, more sales. I’m currently unemployed, finishing my Masters, and trying with all my might to make my creative side work for me. I’m a DIYer from head to toe (literally, yes, I even groom my dogs and cut my own hair), so self-publishing was a no-brainer when I decided to venture into publishing my writing. However, when it comes to selling and marketing, I’m my own worst enemy. My telemarketing days back in college left me scarred for life (they kept me for as long as they did because I spoke English, if not, I would’ve been given the sack my first week).

But that’s not what you’re here for. You’re here because of the Bye Bye KDP Select title.

My friend and author extraordinaire Todd Keisling has been debating over marketing stuff too, only he’s been more outspoken about it. I have not. We’ve had convos about it and after this post he wrote, I thought I’d give my two cents about this. Yesterday’s post also sparked a Twitter reply from @ljndawson in which she mentions the fact that the 3 months thing just doesn’t work.

I went into the KDP Select thing after a lot of reading and pondering about it. Amazon has always been the channel with most sales for me so it didn’t feel wrong to give them the exclusivity to my works. It was like getting into a relationship with someone you’ve known for a while and even when you think ‘yeah, I can handle this’ there always comes a time when you start feeling the belts on the straightjacket getting tighter for no apparent reason. Especially when you’re not getting off on it. Three months become an eternity when you’re not comfortable.

I don’t wanna be kept, I don’t wanna be caged
I don’t wanna be damned, oh, hell
I don’t wanna be broke, I don’t wanna be saved
I don’t wanna be S.O.L.

A lot of blogs I read spoke about the magical after-sales authors encountered after a KDP promo. Your book is free for a couple of days, then when the promo’s over stardust falls from the heavens and you’re blessed with sales. Kind of like those TV shows that get high ratings only because they come right behind another, more successful show. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? I mean, I LOVE giving stuff for free. I really do. I once met a chef that kept giving away recipes she came up with and when asked why she kept giving them away (we were part of an online community) instead of writing a cookbook and selling it, she answered: “because for me, recipes are like butterflies, they come to me freely and are meant to stay that way, free.”

Stories are like butterflies for me. Murder butterflies, but butterflies nonetheless. I can’t keep them captive, they are meant to be enjoyed by everyone out there, not just me. So the KDP Select thing didn’t feel wrong or whorish. I didn’t feel I was becoming Amazon’s bitch by taking that step. I’ve never seen Amazon as the big bad wolf, I owe it the opportunity of publishing my work on a platform that we all have to admit has an enviable standing. I tell people I self-publish my books and they are like ‘yeah, good for you’, I tell them they are on Amazon and their eyes grow wide in disbelief. I smile and add, “put Artistikem in the search box and you’ll find me.” I’m searchable on Amazon, goddammit. Step aside [random famous author name]!

However, as I was starting to think I was immune to the KDP Select promo fairy dust, Todd’s numbers and comments opened my eyes to the reality that there are too many freetards out there roaming like the walkers from The Walking Dead, feeding off people like us that are willing to give away free stuff with the ultimate goal of getting at least one teeny tiny sale.

My novella, The Caregiver, keeps hitting the Top 20 and Top 10 in its category when I do the promo thingy. Then, when the free ride is over, it plummets back to the shadows. Meanwhile, The Caregiver Vignettes 1-5, with no reviews, no nothing, doesn’t hit lower than 30,000 in rank in its category. Why? Because it’s free.

I know everything they say. If your book isn’t selling revise the story, change the cover, get reviews, do a naked streak around a football field with your book’s title written on your skin. But there is only so much one can do. I hire editors for my books. I’m almost certain my covers don’t suck (we’re a team, hubby and I, I do graphic design and he’s a photographer, so we know a bit of what we’re doing). I plug myself on social media but not too much because I value my Internet friends enough. So what the fuck do I have to do to get more sales?

Kill all the freetards? Scarlett charges too much for every kill and I’m no drug lord with enough money to pay her to do the job.

Deal with the freetards? I have no idea how to do that but I’m going to try.

Now that The Caregiver is out of the KDP Select binder, I plan to make it perma-free to try and hook readers with it. Not just 5 days out of 90. I’ve read of other authors doing it with their series and, sincerely, I always knew it’d come to that at some point. This may be the best timing since Book 2 has been available for a while, Book 3 is currently suffering under editor Stacia Rogan‘s scrutiny (the poor thing. I mean the book, not her), and I already started on Book 4.

What else will I do? I’ll keep The Vignettes coming. They are great mental exercises, they help me brainstorm what’s coming next, and oh man are they getting interesting. They may possibly add up to a prequel in the near future. And to think I had already started one about Scarlett’s early years.

I’m rewriting a sci-fi/romance/thriller I wrote years ago and posting it on Tumblr and Wattpad.

Visibility and exposure are a common mantra among self-publishers and I’m putting all my money on it to turn my fate around.

So for once in my life
Let me get what I want
Lord knows, it would be the first time

Bye bye KDP Select

Not exactly a bye bye because it’s just for Book 1 of The Caregiver Series. I’d probably drop Torn in the near future, that’s still to be decided. I want to make Book 1 perma-free to try and give the rest of the books a kick in the butt. Let’s see how that goes.

Anyway, The Caregiver is now free of the Amazon exclusivity shackles and will become available through other channels before the end of the year, in time to celebrate the release of Book 3. Yay!

For now, I’ve given The Caregiver Series its own blog. Book 1 is available there, as well as the vignettes (I’ve been writing more of those lately) and some other neat info you may find useful or just plain entertaining (like this list of characters). More things will be added with time, so keep your eyes peeled.

Also, if you’re a Wattpad user, The Caregiver is now available there too so feel free to check it out: http://www.wattpad.com/28636561

That’s it for now, folks. ‘Til next time.

My KDP Select promo experiment

I had seen it, read about it, analyzed the pros and the cons, and I don’t want to repeat what everyone else has said about this.

It isn’t an entirely good thing, yet it isn’t that bad. Relinquishing my books to the all-mighty Amazon didn’t feel wrong because 99.9% of all my sales have come through them. It actually made some sense.

For those of you who don’t know, KDP Select is a program for self-publishers using the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. It gives you 5 days every 90 to give your book away for free and royalties if people borrow it through their Prime program.

I used some promo days on two books, The Caregiver (published on May 2012) and a short story, At the Corner of Mars and Neptune (published May 2013). ‘Twas the Mother’s Day weekend and I put the first one free Sunday and Monday, the latter from Sunday ’til Tuesday.

Ok, so, the thing I read the most about during my research was: how do these free promos translate into 1) money, 2) people actually reading the book and not only getting it because it’s free and, therefore, shiny?

1) Money. What is that? Ah, that thing I use to get food… yeah, not the reason I write (and yes, that’s the truth either you want to believe or not).

2) People actually reading the book?  I went in knowing that A LOT of people download free books for the sole reason that they are free and never ever touch them, so I was surprised by this review for The Caregiver:

This was the first free book I have read and I was pleasantly surprised. I would read more from this author.

Pleasantly surprised, indeed. If I’ve managed to reach one new reader then I feel like my work here is done.

At the Corner of Mars and Neptune had a huge welcome to the published Kindle books universe. It was downloaded 206 (includes all Amazon sites). It’s a nice number, at least for me, for a short story that had no reviews. After the free promo it got 2 wonderful reviews by people I respect and great feedback through Twitter.

The Caregiver was downloaded a total of 423 times. I know these numbers look teeny-tiny to some authors, to me they are wonderful.

They make me happy.

When it comes to the Amazon Rankings…

At the peek of the promo The Caregiver reached #45 in the Suspense category of the Top 100 Free for Kindle in the US and #52 in the UK.

At the Corner of Mars and Neptune reached #18 in Crime, #24 in Short Stories in the US. It was #20 in Short Stories on the Canada store at one point, #9 in Germany, #10 in France. But the big surprise was in the UK store, where it reached #6.

I’m very pleased with the results, especially given the fact that I was doing all that shameless self-promotion while writing a final paper. I still haven’t slept enough to feel like a person thanks to doing Book 2 edits, writing Book 3, and working on the transmedia project (sleep is for losers, anyway, right?), but I’d do it all over again… and I will!

I want to thank every one of you for your support, wouldn’t have made it without you!!

Soon enough I’ll have news on Book 2’s launch! Yay!