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Topics - Saul Tanpepper

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I've been considering getting Dragon, but Google is rolling out a free StT capability for their Google Docs. I've been pretty impressed with their voice search on my phone, which makes Siri look like English is her second language, so this may well be a good free alternative.

Anyone else considering the move to TtS?

So, I've followed Wayne Stinnet's and Michael Ploof's Bookbub threads with interest, trying to glean what I can from their runs as I get set to do my own BB promotion.

Objective: Solid sales over about a 10-day period, enough to keep me ranked high enough afterward that the tail lasts a bit longer.

Book: My 8-book GAMELAND Season One Omnibus (regularly $9.99, discounted to $2.99). I've been running about 2-3 sales/day, but they've tanked this month, so it's good timing for a boost.

Current paid ranking: 218,246

Promo (cost US$)
Fussy Lib ($16) Booklover's Heaven ($0) BookSends ($50) eReader iQ ($20)
eBooks Habit ($10) Bargain Booksy ($25) Sweetfree Books ($5) Manybooks ($20)
Digital Book Today ($30)
Bookbub ($940) Bargain Book Hunter ($22.50)
Betty Book Freak ($0) Kindle Book Review ($45) Bargain Book Hunter (*) People Reads ($14.99)
Kindle Book Review (*) Pixelscroll ($22.50)People Reads (*)
eReader Cafe ($30) eBookSoda ($10) PixelScroll (*) People Reads (*)
Booktastik ($10) People Reads (*)
Riffle ($40) Book Barbarian ($8) People Reads (*)
eBook Hounds ($30) People Reads (*)
People Reads (*)

* = multi-day promotion w/cost already accounted for

Total cost: $1363

It's a lot to spend, and I know many of these won't yield a good ROI, but I'm hoping for some synergy between them (more sales boosting rank generating more sales and so on). I figure I'll need to sell about 700 copies to break even, but I've done a BB with this set at this price in the past and easily done that. Interestingly, same set at 99-cents garnered only a slightly more sales overall, so not as much profit.

I'll post updates as the promotion progresses.

Writers' Cafe / CONTAIN chosen for a Kobo Category Feature!
« on: May 07, 2015, 08:51:25 AM »
Admins: Not sure if this is the right place for this. Please move if not.

Just got the following email from Kobo:

Hi Saul,
I wanted to let you know that your title Contain was chosen for a Sci-Fi & Fantasy category feature for the month of May.
This placement is visible on the Kobo site in all English-language territories across the world.
We’re planning on charging authors for this feature placement in the future, so it’s extra lucky that you were chosen this month!


As you can imagine, I'm pretty stoked. Sales at Kobo have been decent, but nothing stellar. No idea how or why I was chosen, but I do subscribe to the KWL newsletter and participate in all the site promotions (for example, I enrolled CONTAIN in this month's 35%-off sale later this month, and there are two others scheduled for June). It does appear that they're gearing up to do paid placements. I'll be curious to see how well this works and whether it'll be worth the investment, but for now color me impressed with their attention to us lowly indies.

Just for a bit of perspective. We talk a lot about how valuable we are to Amazon (OK, not all of us do, but enough). This article underscores Amazon's core philosophy that it's all about the customer experience, not the vendor's, which is what authors are. So when a choice has to be made on their end that favors one over the other, the choice will always favor the customer.

Writers' Cafe / KU Scammers have hit a new low
« on: December 10, 2014, 07:02:36 PM »
Published 2 days ago, #1 in Philosophy, 101 reviews (even obviously fake 1- and 2-star reviews) and it's a book comprised only of the letter A. If this isn't evidence that the scammers are just putting anything up, then running the books through their download circles, then I don't know what is. And there's no recourse, because it's not plagiarism.  >:(

Writers' Cafe / PDFs on Google Play: Yes or No?
« on: November 30, 2014, 09:52:03 AM »
My sales on GP have been pretty good and growing month over month. They're now rivaling I've only been uploading ePubs, but a comment on another thread the other day got me to thinking about buyers who prefer PDFs. I've been resisting providing them, but I'm wondering if now I'm missing out on sales. So, my question is this: For those who have uploaded PDFs to GP, what proportion of sales are you seeing coming from the format?

Writers' Cafe / Bookbub n Others: My Omnibus Promo 10/27 - 10/31
« on: October 26, 2014, 01:12:31 PM »
Inspired, encouraged, and educated by the other promo threads recently, I decided to hit the paid and free promotion circuit hard this month, and that includes pushing my GAMELAND Season One Omnibus. My last Bookbub promotion of this set was in April, when it ran for $2.99 in SciFi (normally $9.99) and sold just over 900 total copies in 5 days in Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, and Google Play. The ad cost $500 and grossed over $1800. It was the only promotion site I used. I saw a decent tail and buy-through of my other books.

This time I'm taking a different approach. I'm pricing the book at $0.99 starting tomorrow with the aim of capturing a greater number of readers which I can funnel into my second season books, including a new release coming out Dec 10. The ad, also in SciFi, cost $273 (I believe it was $249 + the 10% for UK option). I've also purchased a number of paid and free packages from smaller sites and spread them out in the days after. Unfortunately, ENT, which had given me stellar results in the past, was already booked for the week. Midlist was also booked.

No paid promotions for Thursday and Friday (lots of submissions to smaller sites, which I wont bother to list unless I see a significant bump). I'm leaving the price discounted through the weekend.

I'll report sales breakdown and ranks as the promo progresses. I know we'd all like to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of each site individually, so I'll request results afterward and post where I can.

Monday 10/27 (total spend $318)
Bookbub ($273)
Booksends ($40)
Bknights ($5 kboards special)
Pixel of Ink ($0, not confirmed)
Books on the Knob ($0)
eBook Lister ($0)
Daily Cheap Reads (US+UK) ($0)
Daily Free eBooks ($0)
One Hundred Free Books ($0, not confirmed)

Tuesday 10/28 (total spend $9)
Fussy Librarian ($9)
Discount Books Daily ($0)

Wednesday 10/29 (total spend $55)
FKBT ($25)
eBook Soda ($10)
Genre Pulse ($20)
Read Cheaply ($0)

I know there are a couple other threads on the subject of what September's payout of $1.52/read may or may not mean, but I'm interested in getting a general sense of how people feel about this month's announcement without any of the commentary (the other posts would be a better place for that). We all have unique circumstances, and our own experiences will range widely, so this exercise is really more about getting a sense of the landscape at this moment in time.

Edited to add the word POLL in the title

Writers' Cafe / 8 Facts You Didn't Know About Amazon
« on: September 11, 2014, 10:21:30 AM »
Well, that's what the article title claims. Some of these details aren't surprising to many of us here. The 12 books/hour figure, however, doesn't jive with the million books/year. It's off by a factor of ten. A million new books is about 120 books/hour or two books/minute.

Just noticed this on the pricing page of one of my books. It's on all of my books that I checked.

I clicked through and got this:

Doesn't seem very useful right now, unless they're suggesting I up my price to $8.99. Wonder if they're going to add more functionality which'll allow us to drill down into genres.

Other (non-Kindle) eReaders / Samsung-Nook partnership just announced
« on: June 05, 2014, 09:47:41 AM »
So, instead of  Windows-based Nook, Microsoft has partnered with Samsung to offer a Galaxy Nook-branded tablet. Given Samsung's popularity, I think this bodes well for the Nook business.

So, I was one of the earliest subscribers to Scribd and my books were among the first to be sent there. I belong to a small "beta" community administered by Scribd, along with a few other authors and a smattering of readers. Recently, Smashwords reported "sales" ("reads") through April 30. The numbers don't jive. I've been assured by several in the community that they read my books past the threshold for a "sale," though I can't be sure they actually did, so I'm not counting on those when considering my reports.

What I do have is at least one acquaintance whose word I can trust implicitly, who has signed up with Scribd and who has been working their way through my books. I have also been reading the books of another author. I'm not talking about a ruse to inflate numbers. These are actual reads of books I wouldn't have bothered to try before. In neither case are the reads being recorded.

Scribd's been trying to clean up their act, so I give them credit for that, but if they aren't correctly reporting, then what are we to think?

Has anyone else experienced or suspect something similar?

Writers' Cafe / Bookbub 3-peat? Doing a $2.99 run this time
« on: April 25, 2014, 09:55:25 AM »
I've had two Bookbub promos in the past, a freebie on my perma-free (almost two years ago) and a 99-cent deal on my omnibus (shortly after it was completed ~16 months ago). Both easily made back my initial investment. I'm running another promo on the 'Bus today, but at $2.99 (70% off).

I've been on pins and needles all week, concerned I might not sell enough at that higher price. The ad (in SciFi) was $500 and I'll have to sell 260 copies to break even (had initially applied to the Thriller cat. But after watching how well books sell at this price during a BB promotion, I'm pretty optimistic. Anyone else have BB experience at this price point?

Oh, and I'll be following up in a couple days with a BookSends promo to hopefully slow the slide. And I'm looking at other sites. I'll be closely monitoring sell-through to the next book. Numbers to follow...

I'm 24 hours into a free ENT promo on my permafree. It's the fourth I've done with them and the second time on this book. Up to 1500 downloads so far and standing at #110 in the free cat overall (#1 in hard scifi and #1 in post-apoc)! Hoping to breach the top 100. This may seem a relative tame number of downloads, but other than Bookbub, this beats anything else I've tried. And the promo costs nothing! It's always been this way with their free features for me.

Basically, Amazon is being accused of asking vendors to raise prices on items qualifying for free shipping. Double whammy (with the rise in Prime membership). And if they lose and have to pay back memberships fees? Ouch.

Writers' Cafe / Philip Seymour Hoffman - a personal farewell
« on: February 03, 2014, 11:00:25 AM »
By now, most of us will have heard about the tragic death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman and the circumstances surrounding it. I've seen an outpouring of emotion on Facebook regarding this loss - pain, sorrow, sympathy. Philip was well known to have battled drug problems, was in and out of rehab, cleaned up and relapsed. There is also a lot of anger, and I'm confused and hurt by people who have lashed out at the actor for frittering away such talent and success, as if the lifestyle and behaviors he was known for were always completely by choice. I can say that they were not. Not always.

I grew up with Phil in Fairport, NY, knew him in high school, acted with him in drama productions. He was two years behind me, but he was well liked and respected by both those ahead of him and those younger. He was an infectious personality, quick to laugh but also quick to anger. He was endowed with more than his fair share of talent, wit, and intelligence, but no one ever begrudged him any of it. He was a good friend and a kind soul.

Over the course of my senior year, I got to know Phil very well. Our tight-knit group of cast members spent many a long night after rehearsals and performances partying. There was a lot of drinking involved, some drugs. Phil was into both. He enjoyed living outside of himself. I think he found who he was rather boring, so perhaps it's not surprising that he became a famous character actor. I hadn't spoken to him since high school.

I fondly recall the day, many years ago, when I first realized Phil had made it big. My wife and I were watching "Scent of a Woman" and I jumped up and cried, "That's Phil! I went to high school with him!"

Since then, I've been fascinated with the idea of how the lives of ordinary people might be influenced by celebrities both before and after fame. One of my first completed novels was a historical fiction about a girl who grows up with Neil Armstrong. Just last month I pulled the manuscript out of its digital drawer to polish up. I was planning on publishing it this fall under another pen name.

I am reminded of a line John Donne wrote: "Any man's death diminishes me." While true, it is the deaths of those who touched us personally which are especially hard to witness.

While digging through my old high school year book today, I came across an issue of the school paper, the Lampion and, in it, a photo of Phil with my best friend, Jeff Keesler, from the last play we put on that year, M*A*S*H. It was 1983, and the television series was airing its final episode. (I still have a postcard kicking around somewhere from Loretta Swit kindly declining our invitation to her for the performance.)

Jeff played Colonel Blake (I was General Hammond and Phil played Radar); it was Jeff who teased me with the nickname "Saul Tanpepper," for the occasional white hairs which had a tendency to sprout on my peri-pubescent head. Jeff died in 1992, and it's in his memory that I write under this pen name. In January, I released the paperback version of my most recent book, which was dedicated to him: "For Jeffrey, who was taken from us far too soon."

My thoughts and prayers go out to Phil's family and friends. He, too, was taken far too soon.

Not Quite Kindle / Texas's BiblioTech is first no (print) book library.
« on: January 04, 2014, 03:36:07 PM »
The pendulum has swung- a bit too far, in my opinion. For those of us heavily invested in digital, I hope this is a harbinger of greater reach (it's certainly not a harbinger of the end of print books).

This article's emphasis is on audiovisual media, but as the problem persists in all digital media and there are big players in music and publishing, not just movies, I can see this expanding to other media and countries if the initial bans prove effective. Now, I've always been of the mind that if/when your books are pirated, you should view it as a rite of passage. It's certainly not worth worrying about trying to stop it. But I'm no supporter of piracy in general and I can't help but hope this curtails the practice. Besides, if the idea is to get your work out there and freely available, there are legitimate (and probably more efficient) means to do it.

Not Quite Kindle / "Almost Human" - Anyone else watching this FOX series?
« on: November 26, 2013, 01:54:22 PM »
Watched the 3rd episode last night with high hopes (missed the opener and 2nd episode), but the show was sort of *meh* and the acting a bit lazy (even by Karl Urban, who impressed me as Bones in the Star Trek movies). And don't get me started on the plot holes.

Having said that, I like police procedurals and scifi, so I'll probably check out the missed shows.

Writers' Cafe / Another poll on how readers discover new books
« on: November 21, 2013, 11:24:07 AM »
This one from rjscott. Not too surprising, especially given the limitations of the poll, but another data point confirming what a lot of us already know or have been preaching about the importance of building your mailing list and personally connecting with readers.

So, after all the discussion about Smashwords' July roll-out of their pre-order option, I figured, what-the-hey, I'll give it a try. I subbed a novelette on August 15th a novelette I was planning on publishing in a few weeks and set a Sept 10th  launch date, figuring three weeks would be a "reasonable" window (indies tend to launch as soon as they're ready, without waiting, but might be inclined to delay a month if there's compelling enough reason, such as a pre-order boost). My file was somewhere in the 60s in the queue and took about ten minutes to finally convert. After everything cleared the auto-vetter, I was very pleasantly surprised to find it cleared premium within a day. The files showed up at the vendors between 4 (Kobo) and 7 (Apple) days later. Okay, so far, not bad.

On Sept 2, I subbed the final edited version (an ePub) to Smashwords. Had to fix something in the description, but the file was fine (already pre-cleared through ePub Validator). As Smashwords' users know, pre-cleared titled are supposed to be fast-tracked for premium. Now, a week later, the file is still waiting to be cleared. I have little confidence the final version will clear, be shipped and replace the original (which, luckily, is ~95%) by the intended launch, which means those who did pre-order will receive something that looks more like a proof than a final. Now I'm glad I didn't promote this very much, as I was more interested in the process than the launch day boost.

Many of us have been calling for Amazon to allow us to create pre-order pages; many also said that the pre-order model didn't fit our launch processes. I, like most of you, publish when the final book is ready. But there is an allure to pre-orders: it can help build excitement, and the launch day spike can really help boost visibility. Kobo Writing Life allows their authors to post pre-order titles, but they're the only one so far; I've used it and it's pretty reliable, more so than Smashwords, at any rate. I certainly won't be using Smashwords' option again. There's simply not enough reason to, and having absolutely no consistency in their premium catalog screening and shipping processes makes using this option completely untenable, especially when you layer over that the variability in time the vendors take to post Smashwords titles on their site.

So, has anyone else tried using this option on Smashwords? What has been your experience?

Writers' Cafe / Selling signed copies via Amazon
« on: September 03, 2013, 09:49:56 PM »
Just noticed a new "Sell on Amazon" button on their revamped product pages (or maybe it was always there and I never noticed it).

Anyway, it appears to be primarily for folks interested in selling their used books, but I don't see why it couldn't be used by authors to sell personalized/signed NEW copies directly to readers. If you click through, on the next page there are options for pricing, condition, and shipping. Offering signed copies on my own website is possible, of course, but I don't get the same traffic Amazon does (and I didn't go through the whole process to see what their cut might be; maybe someone here has?).


So, Motley Fool just published an article looking at Amazon's recent price slashing of the Kindle line and what it might mean in terms of Amazon's tablet and digital content strategy. We've all talked about how the company has been trying to push digital content by keeping their tablet prices at/below cost with the objective of recouping revenue by selling digital content. It appears this strategy may not be working very well, and certainly doesn't look to be a solid long-term strategy. While none of us knows how/if Amazon will respond, especially as it impacts authors, I'm curious how others see these trends. How are you insulating yourself against what Amazon does, and how are you positioning yourself to grow your business going forward? Is audio where it's at? what about multi-media formats?

Here's the article:

Writers' Cafe / The latest scam
« on: May 09, 2013, 01:35:17 PM »
A warning, when trying to leave this page, just close the tab in your browser. If you try to go back or to any other page outside of this site but in the same tab, you'll get stuck in a nearly endless loop of "Are you sure you want to leave this page" windows. And if you do get these, keep clicking the red X in the corner.

(link disabled, but the website's name is "Fast Kindle Cash" and it's apparently being advertised on Facebook now, so heads up)

I can't find what this is exactly (after a quick in and out), but the ToS is scary enough to warrant avoiding signing up for this service like the plague:
"You do not own rights to any article, book, e-book, document, blog post, software, application, add-on, plug-in, art, graphics, images, photos, video, webinar, recording or other materials viewed or listened to through or from our website or via email or by way of protected content on a membership site. The posting of data on our website, such as a blog comment, does not change this fact and does not give you any right. You surrender any rights to your content once it becomes part of Fast Kindle Cash."

ETA: checked my system and it's clean, but I didn't click on anything but their ToS

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