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Writers' Cafe / First ever Bookbub Tue 20th Feb [WITH RESULTS+10 WEEK TAIL]
« on: February 19, 2018, 03:00:12 PM »
ETA: Latest numbers at the bottom of this post.

I plan to enjoy my big day by excitedly giving you guys blow-by-blow details. And getting drunk, obviously. I hope you don't mind.

The background: I sent in my first submission to Bookbub on 23rd April 2015. Almost three years and 61 submissions later - THEY SAID YES! So here I am, with my very first real Bookbub, and boy am I excited. There will be champagne and cake and little sausages on sticks, and I just may stay up all night (curse these time differences!) to get the full benefit. I'm going to make the most of this cos it may never happen again.

The book: It's a box set, books 1-3 of a 6-book series of Regency romances. Regular price $6.99 (the individual books are 99c, $3.99, $3.99). There's a follow-on series, of which 3 of 5 books are out and the others on pre-order. Everything is in KU.

The submission: For those who are looking for what-do-I-have-to-do-to-get-a-Bookbub clues, I have no idea why they took this book rather than the epic fantasies which are now wide, so I can't help. It's the second time I've submitted this book. The category is historical romance. You can link to the cover, blurb, etc from my sig, if you want to check that out. However, here's the extra stuff I put in the submission:
About this book:
- A box set comprising the first 3 books from a completed 6-book series.
- A total of 700 pages of traditional Regency romance in the style of Georgette Heyer.
- Amazon rating for the three books: 3.8, 4.3, 4.1, with over 100 reviews
- Lifetime for these three books: 4,000 sales plus 1.8 million pages read.
- Lifetime for the series: 6,000 sales plus 3 million pages read.
- Sell-through and read-through from the box set to the remaining 3 books in the series is very high (60-97%).
- Sell-through to the ongoing second series is also high.
- This box set has only had one previous promotion.
Thank you for your consideration, and have a great day!
No idea how much any of that helps, but there you go.

Preparation: After squeeeeeing loudly, paying the invoice and having a celebratory dram or five, I set up the Select free days, booked a Freebooksy for day 1, Bookbub is on day 2 and the remaining 3 days have no promo. I've told Bookbub it will be free for an additional 2 days, so I can cancel on the final free day if downloads drop off alarmingly. I've done nothing to the other books in the series. I've tidied up the box set front and backmatter, and set up an after-the-box-set page on my website with a direct link from the last page of the book.

Objectives and expectations: Three objectives:
1) Maximise the total number of downloads, so I'm using all my free days instead of returning to paid the next day - more readers!
2) Lots of new mailing list signups (I have two reader magnets, one for each series).
3) Make enough money to cover the Bookbub cost of $320, plus the $100 Freebooksy.

Expectations: Historical romance averages 24,000 downloads, so that's what I'd like to hit. I fully expect to get drunk.

Results: I'll update day by day for the full five days, plus the tail at intervals (if any!).
Starting rank: 181K
Mon 19th Feb: Freebooksy 2,545 downloads; #42 in free store; sales of other books: 21; pages read: 9K
Tue 20th Feb: BOOKBUB! 25,600 downloads; #3 in free store; sales of other books: 58; pages read: 17K
Wed 21st Feb: no promo 5,113 downloads; #8 in free store; sales of other books: 44; pages read: 30K
Thu 22nd Feb: no promo 1,623 downloads; #12 in free store; sales of other books 36; pages read 43K
Fri 23rd Feb: no promo (switched back to paid a day early) 81 downloads; #3K paid rank; sales of other books 73; pages read 44K
Sat 24th Feb: #4K paid rank; sales of other books 75; pages read 48K

After Bookbub: the first week:

Total free downloads: 35K (including Freebooksy the day before, and two extra free days after with no promo)
Sales on all the Regencies, both series: 438, or 62/day (was 13/day the week before Bookbub)
Pages read on all the Regencies, both series: 306,449 or 44K/day (was 10K/day the week before Bookbub)
Peripherals: 120 new mailing list signups and a smattering of new reviews, all positive so far
Revenue: $249/day extra revenue, so the promo paid its $420 cost in under 2 days

After Bookbub: the second week:

Sales on all the Regencies, both series: 411, or 51/day (was 13/day the week before Bookbub) {DOWN a little on the first week}
Pages read on all the Regencies, both series: 474K or 59K/day (was 10K/day the week before Bookbub) {UP quite a bit}
Peripherals: 130 new mailing list signups and a trickle of new reviews {UP a little}
Revenue: $316/day extra revenue this week {UP a little}

After Bookbub: the third week:

Sales on all the Regencies, both series: 302, or 43/day (was 13/day the week before Bookbub) {DOWN on last week}
Pages read on all the Regencies, both series: 293K or 42K/day (was 10K/day the week before Bookbub) {DOWN on last week}
Peripherals: 49 new mailing list signups and a trickle of new reviews {DOWN on last week}
Revenue: $209/day extra revenue this week {DOWN on last week}

After Bookbub: the fourth week:

Book 4 of the second series came out at the start of this week; I've excluded the numbers from that book, but there's obviously been some spillover, since some numbers are UP this week.

Sales on all the Regencies, both series: 345, or 49/day (was 13/day the week before Bookbub) {UP on last week}
Pages read on all the Regencies, both series: 276K or 39K/day (was 10K/day the week before Bookbub) {DOWN on last week}
Peripherals: 42 new mailing list signups and one or two new reviews {DOWN on last week}
Revenue: $215/day extra revenue this week {UP on last week}

After Bookbub: the fifth week:

Sales on all the Regencies, both series: 224, or 32/day (was 13/day the week before Bookbub) {DOWN on last week}
Pages read on all the Regencies, both series: 290K or 41K/day (was 10K/day the week before Bookbub) {UP on last week, thanks to the new release}
Revenue: $185/day extra revenue this week {DOWN on last week}

After Bookbub: the sixth week:

Sales on all the Regencies, both series: 230, or 32/day (was 13/day the week before Bookbub) {marginally UP on last week!}
Pages read on all the Regencies, both series: 216K or 31K/day (was 10K/day the week before Bookbub) {DOWN on last week}
Revenue: $134/day extra revenue this week {DOWN on last week}

Eight week tail summary:

Eight weeks on and there's still a substantial tail, aided by a new release in the current series in mid-March. Here are the TOTAL numbers for the full eight weeks:

Sales (both series): 2,821
Full read-throughs: 5,034
Revenue: $16,320
Mailing list signups: 450

That isn't neat profit, because I've had advertising and new-book costs to take into account. It also isn't solely due to Bookbub, since I would have made a few thousand anyway from the new release and associated sell-through. But maybe $10K is the Bookbub effect. Boy do I wish I could get one more often than once every three and a half years!

Ten week tail summary:

Ten weeks on and believe it or not I still have a discernable tail. Daily revenue averages between 50% and 100% above pre-Bookbub levels. There has been a new release in there, but the effect of that usually evaporates in about three weeks or so. Here are the TOTAL numbers for the full ten weeks:

Sales (both series): 3,157
Full read-throughs: 5,682
Revenue: $18,187
Mailing list signups: 480
Pre-orders for next book: 470 (at $2.99)

The next book (and the final one of the second series) comes out on 15th, so that will bump things up for a few more weeks.

Writers' Cafe / Going wide [UPDATED: FIRST FIVE MONTHS]
« on: February 18, 2018, 08:05:50 AM »
When I talked about my reasons for going wide (in this thread:,260074.0.html) I promised I'd report back on how things were going. So here we go, a month in.

[UPDATED: the latest month's numbers are at the bottom of this post]

Executive summary: it's been less painful than expected, technical issues have been few, revenue has only dropped from $21/day to $18.

Technicalities: I have 9 books plus a box set in the series that's going wide (my epic fantasies; the Regency romances will stay in KU a while longer). So far, I've uploaded the first 7 in the series. Kobo is painless, D2D almost so, although I had to adjust my formatting slightly. For anyone who uploads epubs, it would be effortless, I imagine, but I upload Word docx versions. GooglePlay's interface is amusingly retro but I got there in the end, although I had to use the chat feature to get help with finding the W-8BEN tax form. The only hiccup was Apple, but one soon learns to remove all references to Amazon. I already have my links pointing to my website, so I didn't have to change those. I still haven't attempted Smashwords, and at this point I've got four different retailers/aggregators to deal with, including Amazon, and it feels like enough.

Pricing: I already knew I had to price higher than usual on GooglePay to avoid the discount triggering Amazon's price-matching bots. I set book 1 free everywhere else and Amazon price-matched without a murmur, so my perma-free is now up and running. This part was easy.

Promo: I paid a few quid for a Kobo free promo on book 1, which shifted a few free copies but no actual sales. I had a Freebooksy on book 1, which shifted 1K+ free books (excellent for a book that's already shifted more than 10K free copies) and got me a few sales on the rest of the series. I've got more promo coming on ENT, RobinReads and BookBarbarian, all of which allow for links to non-Amazon sites. I've got Facebook ads for book 1 running using the D2D-generated links, set up individually for US/CA/UK/AU audiences, but only the US one is consistently productive at a reasonable cost per click.

Bookbub: epic failure to date, despite being wide. They've accepted my Regency box set (which is in KU) but not the fantasies, although, frustratingly, they held on to one of them for a nerve-wracking 5 days before rejecting it. Ah well.

Sales: Kobo: 3; Apple: 2; B&N: 1; Amazon: 115 (around 4/day, which is much the same as before). There was a bump in Amazon sales for the first couple of weeks, possibly because people working methodically through the series via KU were forced to buy, but that's dropped off now.

Revenue: The low point before the last release in mid-December was around $21/day, 83% of it from KU. Since dropping out of KU, revenue from all sites, plus residual KU income, is $18 per day. That residual KU revenue has a long tail; it's still at 30% of overall Amazon revenue.

The second month

The revenue from KU has all but dropped away to nothing now, so daily revenue hit rock bottom levels of around $13 per day in late February, six weeks after going wide. However, I had an ENT on the permafree first in series on 4th March, and since then sales have picked up noticeably at all retailers, and revenue has inched upwards to $16 per day.

Sales to date in 2 months: Kobo 7; D2D (Apple/B&N) 12; GooglePlay 0; Amazon: 223 (still around 4/day, as before)

I have promotions coming up in April with RobinReads and BookBarbarian, and I still have two more books to upload wide, after which I shall start another round of Bookbub submissions. One can but hope.

So far, it hasn't been as disastrous as I'd feared, but it hasn't done as well as I'd hoped, either. The permafree first in series is definitely working - I've had several days when I've sold one of every other book in the series to someone who obviously read book 1, and that's lovely to see. Of course, if sales were higher I wouldn't see that at all, so there's that.

The third month

So KU revenue is just about gone now - I've made $5 this month lol. I've had 68K pages read credited since I went wide, so not insignificant. I've now had promotions on the first-in-series permafree at Kobo, FreeBooksy, ENT, RobinReads and BookBarbarian, with another possible Kobo promotion later this month. Total free downloads: 5K. Still no joy with Bookbub, sadly. :-(

Sales to date after 3 months: Kobo: 18; Apple: 5; B&N: 9; Amazon 284

Wide + Amazon income from sales is holding steady at about $16 per day, and the monthly average is now at or above the income from sales on last year's low months, those without a new release or a major promotional push. However, sales income wide doesn't come close to replacing the KU income yet, even allowing for the steady decline I would have seen since the last new release in December. And I've spent $850 on promotions of one sort or another, including as-much-as-you-can-spend FB ads. I've reduced all that to one low-cost AMS ad, but I'm a long way from breaking even. That's OK, I'm playing a long game. I plan to stay wide at least until the end of the year, barring seismic shifts in KU-dom.

After this month, I may try setting the permafree to $2.99 for a while (the others are $4.99) and seeing what some more focused ads can do. I'm also reading through Patty Jansen's Unboxed books for ideas that don't make my head explode.

The fourth month

Things went downhill fast at Amazon this month. My last promo (RobinReads) was mid-April, and now there's only a low-cost AMS ad on the permafree to prop things up. Still, it's only 9c a click, running at under $1 a day, so I'll leave it for now. Total sales on Amazon this year: 429 (Jan 136, Feb 78, Mar 123, Apr 70, May 22 to date).

Kobo sales, on the other hand, are on the up, following an editor's pick promo last month. Total sales this year: 49 (Jan 0, Feb 3, Mar 8, Apr 12, May 26 to date). A nice upward trend.

D2D sales (B&N and Apple) are pretty low, and most of them are accounted for by one B&N customer and one Apple customer each buying the whole series. Total sales this year: 27 (Jan 0, Feb 6, Mar 6, Apr 5, May 10 so far).

GooglePlay... hahahahaha! 146 downloads of the permafree, not troubling the scorer on the sales front. One day... ;D

So, not a great month, but hey, things can only get better, right? I'm reluctant to throw good money at promos that are (frankly) not very effective. I'll keep the low-cost AMS ad, and the Kobo promos are very cheap and cost-effective. I'll keep harassing Bookbub. Next month I'll start writing the 10th and final book in the series, which will go wide from the start. Onwards and (hopefully) upwards.

The fifth month

The miracle finally happened - I got a Bookbub for the epic fantasy box set. It's 99c and international only, and the average result is 520 sales, which will just about cover the $188 cost. There are six other books for sell-through and I'm happy to be boosting my non-US markets, which are likely to be more stable than the US one, but still... I'm just a tad underwhelmed. So a small yay.

Trouble is, I had such a phenomenally successful Bookbub in February on the KU Regency box set, and the last vestiges of the tail are STILL visible from that, and I just can't see this one doing even a tenth as well. Still, a Bookbub is a Bookbub, and I don't want to sound ungrateful, just a bit pessimistic about the outcome.

In other news, May was my best month yet in non-Amazon retailers. I actually made more elsewhere than at Amazon, particularly at Kobo. I had an Editor's Pick promo at the end of April, and that had a nice effect. Apple and B&N are still spotty, but I got a bunch of sales from Overdrive, which astonished me. Still a big fat nothing from Google Play.

Writers' Cafe / Wish me luck - I'm going wide
« on: January 20, 2018, 01:43:05 PM »
So I've finally decided that I'm going wide. I've been all-in with Amazon and KU since the first day I published, back in September 2014, so it's quite a big decision for me. I have three series currently. The epic fantasy series is slowly sinking into the sunset, so that will be the first to go wide. The first Regency series will go wide once the second series is complete. From then on, each new series will go into KU and only go wide once the series is complete. At least, that's my thinking at the moment, but I reserve the right to change my mind at any time.

For anyone who might be wondering why I'm jumping ship, here is my not-very-rational thought process.

1) It's NOT about the money. I still make two-thirds of my revenue from KU. Even my sinking epic fantasies, which almost all have telephone number ranks, still bring in over $500 a month from KU, because they're such stupidly long books. The shortest is 110K words, the longest is twice that. The box set has a KENPC of 2000 and has brought in a tidy amount of pages read, thank you very much.

2) It's NOT about the scammers, or perhaps I should say it's not just about that. I really don't like scammers and cheaters of any kind, but they're like Victorian-era pick-pockets and modern-era shop-lifters - always with us. KU in particular lends itself to scamming, and it's extraordinarily difficult to squash it without putting humans on the case, which Amazon isn't going to do, so we're kind of stuck with them. And to be honest, I think the number of people who outright scam their way to a payout is quite small.

3) It's NOT because I'm mad at Amazon. I'm not an Amazon apologist, but I am a fan. I've been buying stuff from Amazon for years now, I've had Prime for years, too, and get my money's worth just from the free postage. I spend thousands there, I love one-click shopping, I love the convenience. And I've had a Kindle since the first moment they were on sale in the UK, too. Amazon makes it all easy. And when I decided to self-publish, Amazon made that easy too. No, they're not perfect, no company of that size is, but whenever I've had a problem, whether as a customer or as an author, it's always been resolved quickly and easily.

4) It's NOT about spreading the risk. I've been contentedly Amazon-exclusive for three years, and although I've always thought, in an academic sort of way, that selling elsewhere would be a good idea, I've never cared enough to do anything about it. Until now.

So what IS it about, then?

KDP Select is not the great benefit that it once was. Its three prongs - countdowns, free days and KU - have dwindled away and become hardly worth the candle any more.

I've never been much fussed about countdowns. Yes, you get the 70% royalty rate, but that just means you make 70c from a 99c sale instead of 35c, when a full price sale makes at least $2, and my fantasy series has a regular price of $4.99, a royalty of around $3.40. Then there are all the restrictions about price changes and dates, and they also only run in the US and the UK, so hard luck the rest of the world. I've more or less stopped doing them, except as a 'silent' (unpromoted) deal to support a free deal on another book.

Free days have always been more useful. You can use one day or all five, or split them up, you can book them the day before and cancel them in mid-stream (assuming you don't have promo booked). Best of all, if you can get one or a stack of promos running, they used to produce a great little KU tail. Well, not any more. Something in the algos has changed so that free days just don't give the results they once did. Yes, you can still give away a lot of books, but there's less of a rank bump from ghost borrows and there's much less of a KU tail afterwards.

And then there's KU. Anyone who reads KBoards knows how things have changed in the last year or two. KENPCs have been reduced and capped, the per-page payout has dropped, and the number of page reads reported has dropped too. Some of the changes are for good reasons - the algos now count only the pages which are actually read. Some are just happenstance -  there are just more books now to choose from. And some are bad news - like page flip, and the increasing prevalence and sophistication of scammers and get-rich-quick book-factories. I confess I've been disappointed with Amazon's efforts to deal with the scammers. On really bad days, it looks like they're taking over KU entirely.

There's another development that bothers me, too. In the olden days of... oh, eighteen months ago, a new release and a bit of low-cost promo brought a nice spike with a tail that lasted months. I could just write my books and put them out in the world for people to read, and as long as I kept my nose clean and stayed within the TOS, I'd be safe and what everyone else was doing didn't affect me. That's just not true any more. Amazon has increasingly been hitting authors with draconian punishments without any attempt to verify their misdemeanours, and no clear means of appeal. Books get pulled, accounts are closed down or threatened, ranks get stripped, and sometimes it seems almost random. For an author trying to make a living, it must be terrifying. Even for me, just hoping for a quiet life and a few extra bob each month, it's scary stuff.

So I'm going to venture outside Amazon for the first time, and stop caring about ranks or pages read or what anyone else is doing. I've bought Patty's book on going wide {Hi, Patty!}, I've managed to get a Google Play account, I've signed up with Kobo and Draft2Digital. I haven't yet worked up the strength of mind to look at Smashwords. It was a hot mess the last time I peeked.

I unchecked all the boxes to automatically re-enroll in Select, and once the first dropped out, I emailed KDP Support, pointing out the poor customer experience of having parts of a series in KU and parts out, and asked if, pretty please, I could take all the books out at once. They did it within 24 hours. I'm leaving the Regencies in Select for now, though. I'll test the waters with the fantasies first, and then shift the Regencies across one series at a time.

I realise it'll be financially dire for... well, possibly forever, who knows. I look forward to monthly payments of $0.27 from Smashwords and $2.68 from Kobo. It'll be different, that much is for sure. Wish me luck, guys.

PS I hope any responses to this won't degenerate into the usual KU vs wide argument, which has been thoroughly thrashed out elsewhere on multiple occasions. This is my personal decision, each of us has to make that decision for himself or herself, and this post is to explain mine. KU isn't right or wrong, it's just part of the Amazon landscape.

Back in January, I ran a roll-your-own Bookbub one-day promo for one of my fantasy books which generated nearly 7K downloads, got to #22 in the free chart, created a tail which lasted weeks and was a huge amount of fun. Time to try another one.

The book: The Mages of Bennamore is book 3 in my fantasy series, but it's a true standalone. Released May 2015, it's sold 1400 copies, with roughly 1500 borrows/full read-throughs, and has 50 reviews and an average rating of 4.5 on Amazon, the best of any of my early books. Unlike the previous promo I ran of this type, this one's not a freebie virgin. It's had 6 previous free days, and downloads of 8K, but hasn't been free (or promoted at all) since last December. Like all the fantasies, it now has a shiny new cover from Deranged Doctor, so it looks more epic and less romancey (although it's actually the most romancey of any of my fantasies).

The plan: As with the previous mini-Bookbub, the idea is to throw every possible promo site at it from my list of old reliables, plus the odd new one. Here's the list: RobinReads, FreeBooksy, FKBT, EbookBetty, ChoosyBookworm*, FussyLibrarian, ManyBooks, OHFB, ReignOfReads**, AwesomeGang, Booktastik, EbookHounds, EbookSoda, ReadingDeals, BookBasset*, Booksends, EReaderIQ, ENT. Disappointingly, I wasn't able to use BookBarbarian because, despite starting to book in mid-August, they were fully booked until the end of October. PeopleReads aren't on the list because they don't have emails on Wednesdays or Thursdays.
* Choosy and BookBasset are both paid for, but I haven't had official confirmation; ** Reign of Reads is new to me.

The cost: An eye-watering $609, but I expect to make that back in sell-through to the other books in the series, most of which are $4.99. A real Bookbub would cost $297 for a free deal in fantasy, and an average of 35K downloads (ah, if only...).

The expectation: I'll be disappointed if I don't get 5K downloads. More than that is a bonus, and more than the last one's 7K would be awesome. And some tail, of course. But to be honest, the big payback for me is the fun of watching that line on the graph shoot up and up.

I'll post numbers and ranks during and afterwards, and also calculate the ROI.

Final report:

Best free rank: #34
Best sub-cat rank: #1
Sales of other books in series: 87
Pre-orders of new book: 13
Revenue for the day: $134 (typically $30/day)
Return paid rank: 13K (it started at #135K)

When I released book 1 of my first Regency romance series, back in June 2016, I floundered a bit. It was a new genre for me, a new pen name, a miniscule mailing list and I had no idea how to promote the thing. So I didn't. I just put it out there with a low-level AMS ad, and hoped for the best. And it didn't sink, but it didn't exactly win Olympic swimming medals either. When book 2 came out, I made book 1 free for a day. And when book 3 came out, book 2 was free. And gradually, oh so gradually, sales and pages read picked up. With six books out, plus a box set of books 1-3, it's so far racked up 12K sales plus full read-throughs and made $19K gross revenue. Which is peanuts to a lot of people, I know, but astonishing to me, considering its slow start. The only problem is that expenses were high, too, about $8K, what with promo, ads and my sally into audiobooks (which was fun, but hellish expensive).

So for the second series, I wanted to give it a bit more of a push out of the door, but without totally breaking the bank. I'm using five methods:

1) Mailing list (currently 1800 names); cost: free
2) Newsletter swaps with 3 other clean Regency authors; cost: free
3) 10-day 99c promo on the newly released book 1; cost: $550
4) 1-day free promo on the series 1 box set; cost: $200
5) AMS/FB ads on the new release: cost: unknown but hopefully under $750

Total cost: $1,500, which... um, is slightly breaking the bank, but I would hope to make most of that back on sales/pages read plus pre-orders on book 2 at $2.99, plus extra sales of the first series.

Objective: To try to keep the new book at around 5K ranking over the promo period. If it does better than that, well, wheeeee! But I'm not holding my breath.

Starting position: book 1 has been on pre-order for a month at 99c so I can get promo booked, and book 2 is also on pre-order at $2.99. I haven't officially announced it to my mailing list or blog, but Amazon sent an email to followers and a few other people have discovered it, plus I've had AMS ads running, and for the last few days FB ads. Total pre-orders: 147, plus 19 for book 2, which has given book 1 a pre-release rank of 8K.

Here's the schedule:

Tue 12   Release [Sales: 38; pages read: 621; rank: 5K]
Wed 13   My own mailing list [Sales: 49; pages read: 2,159; rank: 3K]
Thu 14    No promo [Sales: 26; pages read: 3,180; rank: 3K]
Fri 15    No promo [Sales: 16; pages read: 3,029; rank: 3K]
Sat 16   AwesomeGang [Sales: 15; pages read: 3,644; rank: 4K]
Sun 17    Booktastik [Sales: 13; pages read: 3677; rank: 5K]
Mon 18   ChoosyBookworm/OHFB [Sales: 39; pages read: 4,677; rank: 5K]
Tue 19   ManyBooks/EbookHounds/PeopleReads/2 newsletter swaps [Sales: 43; pages read: 5,539; rank: 3K]
Wed 20   ENT/Ebooksoda/Newsletter swap [Sales: 66; pages read: 4,021; rank: 2K]
Thu 21   FussyLibrarian [Sales: 35; pages read: 3,871; 2K]
   Box set from series 1 FREE with BookBasset, Booktastik, ChoosyBookworm, EbookHounds, EbookSoda, FreeBooksy [Downloads: 3,935; best rank: #36; #1 or #2 in sub-genres, beaten only by the Bookbub freebie]
Fri 22   EbookBetty [Sales: 15; pages read: 4,127; rank: 3K]
Sat 23   FKBT [Sales: 31; pages read: 5,644; rank: 3K]
Sun 24    Booksends/AXP Daily Deals [Sales: 51; pages read: 3,904; rank: 3K]
Mon 25   BargainBooksy [Sales: 44; pages read: 4,711; rank: 3K]
No RobinReads (rejected me, boo hoo)

Total promo, as at Tue 26th:
Pre-orders: 147
Sales: 474
Total sales: 621
Pages read: 56K
Total revenue to date: $441 (new book only)
Total gross revenue this month: $1322 (all Regencies)
Baseline revenue @ $21/day: $546 (revenue before new release/promo)
Ad spend to date: $1883
Pre-orders for book 2: 99 @ $2/sale: $198
ROI to date: $1322 - $546 + $198 - $1883 = -$909

Total promo, as at Tue 3rd October:
Pre-orders: 147
Sales: 544
Total sales: 691
Pages read: 86K
Total revenue to date: $628 (new book only)
Total gross revenue this month: $1848 (all Regencies)
Baseline revenue @ $21/day: $546 (revenue before new release/promo)
Ad spend to date: $1915
Pre-orders for book 2: 126 @ $2/sale: $252
ROI to date: $1848 - $546 + $252 - $1915 = -$361

Total promo, as at Tue 10th October:
Pre-orders: 147
Sales: 579
Total sales: 726
Pages read: 113K
Total revenue to date: $806 (new book only)
Total gross revenue this month: $2143 (all Regencies)
Baseline revenue @ $21/day: $546 (revenue before new release/promo)
Ad spend to date: $2078
Pre-orders for book 2: 148 @ $2/sale: $296
ROI to date: $2143 - $546 + $296 - $2078 = -$185

Total promo, as at Sun 15th October:
Pre-orders: 147
Sales: 593
Total sales: 740
Pages read: 124K
Total revenue to date: $925 (new book only)
Total gross revenue this month: $2524 (all Regencies)
Baseline revenue @ $21/day: $546 (revenue before new release/promo)
Ad spend to date: $2138
Pre-orders for book 2: 164@ $2/sale: $328
ROI to date: $2524- $546 + $328- $2138= +$168 <<<-----IN THE BLACK!!!

Writers' Cafe / 3 years, 17 books, 6 wisdoms to impart...
« on: September 12, 2017, 02:26:53 AM »
So today is my three-year publishiversary, and also the release date of my 17th book. Yikes! However did I get here from there?

Three years ago I knew nothing, had no expectations, had a single epic fantasy book that I still think of fondly as my wonky first effort and had run up expenses of $2,500. In its first 3 months, it racked up 68 sales/borrows and earned me $24. Three years later, it's still not a big seller (story of my life, really), but the total sales/borrows have topped 3,200 and earnings are north of $8,500.

Wisdom number 1: a slow start doesn't mean book-death.

Four months after Mr Wonky, I released book 2, with $254 worth of promotion. Holy moly, it had 500 sales/borrows and earned $500 in its first 2 weeks! That felt better. To date, it's still my best performer, with 5,600 sales/borrows and gross earnings of $11,500.

Wisdom number 2: promotion sells books.

Four months after that, when book 3 came out, I put book 2 free for a day, with no promotion, just a bonus for my bijou mailing list and the three people who followed my blog. It got picked up by Pixel of Ink and shifted an astonishing (to my prawny self) 4,000+ copies in just a few hours. That little green graph went rocketing into the stratosphere. It was a very cool moment, and terribly exciting - until the 1-star reviews started to come in. Oh boy. But you know what? The sky didn't fall in, the book continued to sell and later reviews corrected the imbalance.

Wisdom number 3: 1-star reviews are not the kiss of death.

So I kept writing the epic fantasies, and book 4 did better than book 3, and book 5 did better again, and book 6 went up another notch. They were all stand-alones, although set in the same world and with some connections, so there was reasonable sell-through in all directions. I could promote any one of them and get a good bump across the board. And then along came book 7. And book 8. And they really didn't sell much. Hmm...

Wisdom number 4: series are good, except when they're too long.

I branched out into a shiny new genre! And completely farked it up. As you do. I wrote a long post about all the mistakes I made with my Regency romances, and how things sorta kinda worked out anyway, so I won't repeat all that. The one thing I did right was to write them fast and push them out quickly, not something I could do with the fantasies. But my big mistake was a corker.

Wisdom number 5: thou shalt never, ever, EVER write a wimpy heroine, unless thou wanteth to paper thy walls with 1-star reviews.

With the fantasies sagging and the Regency series complete, I discovered the joy of box sets. I bundled up the first 3 Regencies and books 2, 5 and 7 of the fantasies (I know, I know, I haven't quite got the idea of a trilogy) and turned them loose. And lordy, lord, did they shift. Lots of juicy pages read. However, they've decimated the sales of the individual books, so it's not something to do unless the series is getting moribund. And definitely don't do it just as you release expensive audiobooks of the individual books (sigh).

Wisdom number 6: box sets are fun (and fill in gaps when you have nothing else to release).

Some numbers: to date I've sold 16K books, had 17K borrows/full read throughs and grossed $75K, with expenses of $40K. Not exactly retire-to-the-Bahamas money, but it's paid for a few holidays.

So today is the release of book number 17, the first of a new Regency series. It's not written to market, I don't have a fancy-pants launch strategy (just the time-honoured 99c/mailing list/paid promo) and I don't have unrealistic expectations. Or any expectations, really. A few sales would be nice. A few pre-orders for book 2. A few mailing list signups. Conquering the world one reader at a time, that's me.

Now on to the next three years...

[Edited to remove the stupid blobby things]

Now that my epic fantasies have got their brand spanking shiny new covers (thank you, Deranged Doctor Designs!), and have been rebranded more strongly as a series, it's time to give them a kick up the backside and see if I can't get things moving again. My mini-pretend-Bookbub promo in January and the release of a box set in February both did well, but things have gone steadily downhill since then. In the last 7 days, the whole series has mustered just 2 sales per day and 5 borrow-equivalents (full read-throughs). Apart from book 1 of the series, already at 99c in preparation for the promo, ranks have been in the telephone numbers. At this moment, one is as low as 278K.

So... relaunch time. 8 days of paid promo on book 1 at 99c, using just 1 or 2 sites per day. I'm not expecting miracles, because book 1's been out for two and a half years, and it's been around the block at time or two, promo-wise. To grease the wheel, I've put book 2 at 99c too, and the box set is reduced from $9.99 to $6.99.


Promo cost: $439
Promoted book: The Plains of Kallanash: Brightmoon book 1 99c
Also on sale: The Fire Mages: Brightmoon book 2 99c
And: The Fire Mages Collection (books 2, 5, 7) $6.99
Rank before promo: 59K

The schedule:

Fri 28 Apr: RobinReads $45 Sales: 14
Sat 29 Apr: FKBT $30; Booksends/EReaderIQ: $45 Sales: 22
Sun 30 Apr: BargainBooksy $70; EbookBetty $18 Sales: 14
Mon 1 May: FussyLibrarian $14; Booktastik $10 Sales: 3
Tue 2 May: ChoosyBookworm $25; EbookSoda: $15 Sales: 11
Wed 3 May: OHFB  $75 Sales: 8
Thu 4 May: BookBarbarian $25 Sales: 9
Fri 5 May: ENT $60; SweetFreeBooks $7 Sales: 12

Total sales: 93

Writers' Cafe / The Awkward Book 6 Launch Promo Thread [FINAL NUMBERS]
« on: April 02, 2017, 05:56:07 AM »
So how exactly do you launch book 6 of a series? With my Regency romance series finally coming to an end, I was faced with quite a tricky prospect. It's much easier to promote the first of a series, and book 6 isn't likely to appeal to anyone who hasn't read the previous 5. But there might be readers who won't even try a series until they know they can read straight through if they like it, so it's worth a bit of a push.

Here's what I decided to do:

Book 6 (Hope)

- Long pre-order, running from the launch of book 5, to mop up as many committed-to-the-series readers as possible. I started it at 99c, for my mailing list, then it was $2.99. Total pre-orders: 234.

- AMS ads, started a few days before release. I started with low bids (16c on around 400 keywords), then I selected about 100 keywords (author names) currently in my also-boughts, HNR or bestseller lists, and increased the bid on those by 10c each day, up to a ceiling of $1.01. I'll up the daily budget as needed. This will be expensive (gulp!), but I'd spend several hundred dollars on paid promo sites, so I'm prepared to take the hit. Um, for a few days, anyway. We'll see.

Book 1 (Amy)

- Free for 5 days with as many paid promo sites as I could get, limited by the book's star rating of 3.7.

Book 2 (Belle)

- 99c for the duration of book 1's promo. I tried to get a Countdown for this, in fact, I set up a Countdown, but it vanished (presumably too close to Select renewal time), so I've set the price manually.

The other books are $3.99, and book 6 will go up to this price at some point (currently still at the pre-order price of $2.99).

Promo planned and results (total cost $419)
Note: KENPC on book 6 is 382.
Author rank before release for historical romance: #583

Fri 31st: Book 6 released - hooray!
          Book 6 sales (excluding pre-orders): 12 ; pages read: 3999 ; rank: 7K

Sat 1st: Email to bijou organic mailing list (160 names)
         Book 6 sales: 10 ; pages read: 4847 ; rank: 6K

Sun 2nd: No promo
         Book 6 sales: 6 ; pages read: 7896 ; rank: 6K

Mon 3rd: AwesomeGang $50 (includes multiple sites); Bookbasset $8; Booktastik $10; SweetFreeBooks $7
         Book 6 sales: 5 ; pages read: 3828 ; rank: 8K
         Book 1 downloads: 476; book 2 sales: 4
Tue 4th: Fussy Librarian $14; Pretty-Hot (AwesomeGang); Booksends $50; EReaderIQ $25
         Book 6 sales: 9 ; pages read: 6181 ; rank: 8K
         Book 1 downloads: 1654; book 2 sales: 21
Wed 5th: OHFB $75; BookReaderMagazine (AwesomeGang); Ebooksoda $15
         Book 6 sales: 9 ; pages read: 4551 ; rank: 8K
         Book 1 downloads: 662; book 2 sales: 9

Thu 6th: RobinReads $65; DiscountBookMan (AwesomeGang)
         Book 6 sales: 3 ; pages read: 4549; rank: 7K
         Book 1 downloads: 3071; book 2 sales: 20

Fri 7th: FreeBooksy $100; AwesomeBookPromotions (AwesomeGang)
         Book 6 sales: 4 ; pages read: 3388; rank: 9K
         Book 1 downloads: 1753; book 2 sales: 20


Book 6: total sales: 58; pages read: 39,239 (102 full read-throughs); best rank: 6K
Book 1 downloads: 7616; best free rank: #34
Book 2 99c sales: 74; best rank: 6K

Writers' Cafe / Once upon a time there were three promos...
« on: March 03, 2017, 09:36:04 AM »
...there was a great big expensive promo, and a dinky little cheap(ish) promo and one that was middling, and that one was just right. Or was it?

OK, silly opening, but I've run three promos lately for free books, and I thought it would be interesting to compare results. For all three, I've looked at the increased revenue for all the books in the series in the week after the promo, compared with the week before.

For anyone wondering, the benefits to giving away free books are firstly, to get the books into the hands of new readers, some of whom might go on to read other books in the series, and secondly, to propel the book up the poplist rankings (NOT the bestseller rankings, which only take paid sales and borrows into account); this makes the book more visible to browsing readers, and especially KU browsers. As I'm all-in with KDP Select, this is a big attraction.

1) Let's start with the cheap promo. Relatively cheap, anyway - $100 for FreeBooksy and no other promo. This is my impulsive-level promo, since a date can be booked just a few days in advance and FreeBooksy is a very successful performer for me. I created a box set of 3 of my fantasies on impulse to fill a gap in releases, and then, since I hadn't told anyone about it and consequently it wasn't doing much, I decided on impulse to give it a bump with a promo. It hasn't boosted sales much (but then it's $9.99 a pop) but KENPC on the set is 2000, and since the promo, pages read have increased from 2K per day to 10K, which is terrific news.

Cheap promo result: 4282 downloads; 36% increase in revenue

2) The middling promo was a 3-day promo on book 3 of my Regency series using 12 different promo sites (including ENT, ManyBooks, ChoosyBookworm, AwesomeGang and Freebooksy again). It cost $347 altogether, and boosted both sales and pages read, but it was too recent to know whether the tail has any legs to it (if you'll excuse the mangled anatomy).

Middling promo results: 5314 downloads; 68% increase in revenue

3) The great big expensive promo was my mini-Bookbub effort, where I threw every promo site I could get at one of my epic fantasies, just to see how many downloads I could get. Quite a lot, as it turned out, and the tail from that is still ongoing more than 6 weeks later. Sales were somewhat up, but the big payback was in increased pages read over the whole series. The cost was $474, and you can read all about it here if you're so minded (summary in the first post):,246726.0.html.

Expensive promo results: 6803 downloads; 92% increase in revenue (in first week, and still 60% up in 5th week after the promo)

It would be tempting to conclude that the more you pay, the better the results, but I'm not trying to be prescriptive here. Rather, I hope to encourage people to track their promos and keep records of the results to see what works for each individual book/series/genre. If you use a tool like BookReport, it's not hard to view revenue over time for groups of books, so that you can see if a promo was effective or not.

Happy promo-ing.  ;D

Writers' Cafe / My roll-your-own-mini-Bookbub FREE promo [4 WEEK REPORT]
« on: January 17, 2017, 09:00:04 AM »
Inspiration: I've realised I'll never get a Bookbub, since my books aren't wide or trad-pubbed or bestsellers or award winners or anything more than modestly prawny. But then I read this blog post by Jackie Weger, link here:, where she set up her own mini-Bookbub with a bunch of smaller promo sites. So I thought - why not?

The book: The Fire Mages' Daughter is my fifth fantasy, and the middle of my set of three fire mage books, although it's actually a stand-alone (the third one, The Second God, is a true sequel to this one - same characters and everything). Daughter has been out for a year, never been free before and only briefly 99c at launch and for a couple of low-key promos. Usual price $4.99. It typically averages one sale and a couple of read-throughs per day.

The plan: Unlike Jackie's mini-Bookbub, which was spread over 5 days, I'm going for the big bang - all on one day. She had a 10K-strong mailing list to leverage, while I have a puny ~225. So I've signed up to every site that would take me, all my 'most reliables' plus some cheaper old favourites. I had to book two months in advance to get some of these.

The promos:
AwesomeGang $10 (not confirmed)
BookBasset: $7.99 (not confirmed)
Booksends: $50 + $25 for EReaderIQ
Booktastik $10
ChoosyBookworm $25
EbookHounds: $10
EbookSoda: $15
ENT  $30
FreeBooksy $100
FussyLibrarian: $14
ManyBooks $25
OHFB  $100 
RobinReads $45
SweetFreeBooks $7
A few I couldn't get: BookGorilla (never replied), FKBT (rejected for not being book 1 of series), BookBarbarian (used in Sept), BettyBookFreak (full)

The cost: $474. By contrast a free Bookbub for this book would be $287 for an average of 35,700 downloads. I should also point out that Jackie Weger spent under $200 on her version, and got 15K downloads for a romance.

Objectives: I could witter here about sell-through and ROI and all that, but really this is just for fun. Expensive fun, but never mind - I just want to see that green line shoot higher than it's ever gone before. Previous best day - 4K downloads. If I make my money back, that will be a bonus, but I'm not holding my breath.

Expectations: There are several sites on the list that I'd expect to bring in 1,000 downloads or more, and the rest should be a few hundred apiece, so I'll be disappointed if I don't make 10,000. If the day goes well, it might fall in the 12-15K range.

I'll post numbers as they come in, so anyone who wants can follow along. Wish me luck!


Downloads: 6803
Best free rank: #22
Return paid rank: #9546
Sales of other books in series: 46
Pages read (all books in series): 8304

Day after promo:

Sales of promo'd book: 86
Sales of other books in series: 6
Best paid rank: #2657
Pages read (all books in series): 9093

1 week report (promo day + 6 days)

Sales of promo'd book: 109 (previous week 12)
Pages read for promo'd book: 25K (previous week 12K)
Rank: 2K dropping to 12K, then back up to 5K
Sales of other books in series: 79 (previous week 41)
Pages read for other books in series: 45K (previous week 41K)
Revenue: $715 (previous week $390; assuming page read value of 0.0048)
ROI to date: $325 (68% of promo cost)

2nd week report

Sales of promo'd book: 25 (previous week 109)
Pages read for promo'd book: 51K (previous week 25K)
Rank: 5-8K
Sales of other books in series: 21 (previous week 79)
Pages read for other books in series: 88K (previous week 45K)
Revenue: $830 (previous week $715; assuming page read value of 0.0048)
ROI to date: $765 (161% of promo cost)

3rd week report

Sales of promo'd book: 20 (previous week 25)
Pages read for promo'd book: 45K (previous week 51K)
Rank: 8K-13K and sinking fast!
Sales of other books in series: 35 (previous week 21)
Pages read for other books in series: 82K (previous week 88K)
Revenue: $802 (previous week $830; assuming page read value of 0.0048)
ROI to date: $1107 (248% of promo cost)

4th week report

Sales of promo'd book: 8 (previous week 20)
Pages read for promo'd book: 30K (previous week 45K)
Rank: 13-20K
Sales of other books in series: 35 (previous week 35)
Pages read for other books in series: 86K (previous week 82K)
Revenue: $713 (previous week $802; assuming page read value of 0.0048)
ROI to date: $1500 (316% of promo cost)

Writers' Cafe / The Accidentally Lowkey Promo Thread [NOW WITH ADDED TAIL!]
« on: November 20, 2016, 08:36:48 AM »
TAIL UPDATE: see reply #44 on p2 of the thread.

Wow, seems like a long time since I did one of these. But then it's a while since I had a full-blown 99c promo - or tried to! Not so much a promo as a learning experience (I seem to have a lot of those).

Background: In June I released the first in a series of Regency romances, a new genre for me, and a new pen name, with the next two books following in July and September. I made a lot of mistakes, which I documented here,239963.0.html, but it kind of worked out in the end, and the Regencies now outsell my epic fantasies. Now book 4 is just out, and I decided a long time ago this was the time for an all-out, go-big-or-go-home, bust-the-bank promotion on book 1. Ha! Yeah, not so much.

What I did wrong: First mistake was in the writing. My first heroine in the series is a timid soul, terrified of... well, everything, really. To say that readers disliked her would be like saying Mount Everest is a big mountain. They hated her. So, average review rating is 3.7 and lots of promo sites won't even consider it. Second big mistake was waiting until a month beforehand to book promo sites. Have you any idea how far out some of the popular sites are booked? Wow. So, not quite the full-blown promo I'd had in mind. Here are the sites I'd have liked but were full/rejected me/book didn't qualify: ENT, OHFB, RobinReads, FussyLibrarian, My Romance Reads, EReaderCafe, FKBT, ChoosyBookworm. Yikes. Some big, big hitters in there. I was still able to book a couple of biggies, but mostly I was left with the cheaper sites. Mea culpa.

Expectations: Not much, to be honest. Currently the book sells steadily some 2-4 copies a day, and more borrows, with a ranking around 20-30K mostly. Even a few additional sales every day will be a help, though, and despite the scathing reviews, sell-through to book 2 has been good so far, about 60%.

Total cost: $266.

Promoted book: Amy (book 1 in the series)

Fri 18th: Roz Marshall romance cross-promo (free) Sales: 7; pages read: 936 (KENPC is 300); rank: 11K
Sat 19th: Ditto Sales: 11; pages read: 2345; rank: 11K
Sun 20th: No promo Sales: 5; pages read: 1959; rank: 15K
Mon 21st: EbookSoda $15 Sales: 12; pages read: 990; rank: 11K
Tue 22nd: Booksends $75 Sales: 54; pages read: 1310; rank: 3K
Wed 23rd: AwesomeGang $10    BettyBookFreak (now eBookBetty) $18 Sales: 16; pages read: 595; rank: 5K
Thu 24th (Thanksgiving): BookScream (free)**    BookPebble (free)  Sales: 5; pages read: 1105; rank: 10K
**Not sure if my submission worked; I tried to pay, but made a mistake and the website wouldn't let me retry, and I've had no confirmation, so... not sure.
Fri 25th: SweetFreeBooks $7  Sales: 9; pages read: 1012; rank: 10K
Sat 26th: EreaderIQ $26    Booktastik $10 Sales: 27; pages read: 695; rank: 6K
Sun 27th: BargainBooksy $70  Sales: 48; pages read: 1361; rank: 4K
Mon 28th: EbookHounds $35 Sales: 16; pages read: 2277; rank: 8K

Results so far: The Roz Marshall romance cross-promo has been an interesting experiment. At 18 sales, at least a dozen above normal, and a clear uptick on pages read, it's done OK. However, Ryn Shell's historical fiction cross-promo in September produced 46 sales of the same book, and although I told my mailing list about the romance deals, only 8% clicked through.  So it looks as though my traditional Regencies are a better fit with historical fiction than romance. That's very useful information.

No promo today, so I expect a quiet day, with Ebooksoda tomorrow and Booksends on Tuesday. I'll update this post with results every day.

Writers' Cafe / A really good roundup of the current KDP rules
« on: November 11, 2016, 07:56:37 AM »
For anyone who's ever wondered exactly what you can, and can't, put in a KDP published book (which is surely all of us), this is a thorough and easy-to-read list. In particular, it makes it clear that it IS okay to have a link within your book to a mailing list signup page, and clarifies the advice on the TOC. But lots of other good stuff. As always, it's only as up-to-date as the day it was written, so things are liable to change.

Writers' Cafe / It is possible to deal with same-name author problems
« on: September 03, 2016, 01:48:56 AM »
I don't want to fall foul of the reopening-locked-threads rule, so mods, please intervene if this is out of line, but I saw an interesting post that's relevant to the Stephen King lookalike discussion.

Two authors writing as Alexa Riley found another author using that name and confusing their fans. They went to court and succeeded in getting the other author's account taken down from Amazon, and got damages, too. Here's the link:

I've been writing epic fantasy for some years now, and publishing in that genre since September 2014. I now have six of them published, with the seventh out next month. But late last year, when I was a passenger on a long, boring car journey, my mind wandered off on a very different tangent: Regency romance. What would happen if a man with very rigid ideas, so obsessed with regularity that he named his children alphabetically, died suddenly leaving his daughters large dowries but only if they married in the proper order, eldest first? The pressure would be on for each daughter to find a husband - and a HEA. I began to plan.

Plan A

Six daughters, six books, relatively short - say 50K+. Write all six fully, so that threads of subplot could run through the entire series, then publish them a month apart starting late in 2016. The first was quite tricky to write, but the second and third were great fun and the writing just flew. By the beginning of June, I had three books finished, I had covers, could I wait six months to publish? No, of course I couldn't.

Plan B

Publish the first three books a month apart in July, August, September. After that, the rest could come out two months or so apart. I planned some promo for the first book shortly after release. I didn't think the series would do very much until there were at least three books out, so I didn't bother with a 99c price point. All the books will be $2.99 from the start. So, the first three books went up on pre-order, and that was...

Mistake #1

What is the point of a pre-order for a book/series/author that no one's ever heard of? A handful of pre-orders came in from kind souls who know me, and then... crickets. Rankings plummeted. Panic ensued.

Plan C

Bring forward the release of book one by three weeks (the earliest possible date). This worked fine, and readers of book one even began to pre-order book two. When rankings showed signs of sliding, I reduced the price to 99c for a few days until things picked up. But changing plans on the fly has consequences, which was...

Mistake #2

My carefully planned post-launch promo was now stranded almost at the end of the 30-day new release window with no time to reschedule; not a disaster but not ideal. How to maximise the potential?

Plan D

Yep, my correction for the problems of the early release of book one was... the early release of book two. And - holy moly! - that worked really well. One day after book two launched, book one was free for two days. FreeBooksy and OHFB between them shifted 5200+ copies, and I saw an immediate bump in sales and pages read, with a nice ranking boost. Then the reviews started to come in and I discovered...

Mistake #3

Shy, timid heroines do not go down well with a lot of readers. Sigh. And I did exactly the same thing with the fantasy books, so you'd think I'd know better. Fortunately, with a series of six books, the rest are going to be feistier, but I really should have started with a spirited heroine. Ah well.

Current state of play

Books one and two are selling well (by my standards), averaging 8-12 sales and 3K pages read per day each, with book one a little ahead of book two. Rankings are in the 6-10K range most of the time. And pre-orders for book three are coming in, too, at over 100 so far. I'm leaving the release date for that as it was, early September, since the final editing isn't done yet and I don't want to rush things. The rest of the series will be released roughly two months apart.

Lessons learned

1) For a new series/pen name, a short pre-order is useful for setting up the book page/ASIN/promo, but a long one is a disaster. And there was no point putting book three on pre-order at all, at least until book two was out to link to it.
2) Surprisingly, full price releases work OK. Maybe the books would have done better at 99c initially, but I'm pleased with sales so far, and they're in KU for those who prefer to borrow.
3) Having a little publishing experience didn't help - I still floundered. I had trouble finding ARC readers, deciding on release dates, using promo effectively.
4) Free is a very effective strategy for a new release. I've only used it previously to bolster a book that's been out a while and is sliding, but one of my author friends suggested the idea and I was very pleased with the results.
5) The big one - NO TIMID HEROINES! Even if they're historically accurate, they're not interesting to read about.

I hope that revealing all the things I did wrong will be either entertaining (feel free to laugh at my stupidity) or helpful for anyone else branching out into new territory.

For my last book launch in January, I tried something radical: NO paid promo for the launch, just a long pre-order period, notify my bijou (75 name) mailing list, and fingers crossed that Amazon jumps in with those helpful emails to followers. And it worked pretty well. I sold 500+ (including 200+ pre-orders) copies of the new book, with 100K+ pages read in the first month, with good sell-through to the other books. Still fairly prawny, but encouraging.

This time, I'm trying the same experiment, but with one difference - I haven't put the book up for pre-order.

Pros: I should get a bigger sales bump just after launch; no nerve-shredding pre-order deadlines.

Cons: No starting rank, no also-boughts, no long ride in the HNR picking up random browsers; I'm really starting from scratch.

Strategy: Erm, what strategy? If you want a launch strategy, go read Wayne Stinnett's thread. This launch is the antithesis of his.  ;) The only mildly strategic thing I'm trying is to segment my mailing list. I have a massive (ha!) 194 names on my list, so I'm sending out the notifications in 3 batches, split by date of signing up.

Pricing: 99c for a few days, then up to $3.99.

Objectives: spread any early rush of sales over 2-3 days, then... {shrug} hope for the best.

Expectations: none. This could be a disaster, so just hoping Amazon emails and borrows kick in. Pages read were good last time round, but this book is much shorter, only 105K, so I'm not expecting high numbers. A good result would be a better-than-10K ranking for a while. I'll post daily results until they get embarrassing.


May 2nd: uploaded book, told no one [Sales: 3 (1 is me); pages read 500 (me again - testing, testing), rank: none; reviews: 0]
May 3rd: emailed my ARC readers; emailed to mailing list's first 59 names at noon, and next 56 at midnight [Sales: 21; pages read: 1400; rank: 15K; reviews: 4]
May 4th: email final 79 names at noon [Sales: 12; pages read: 446; rank: 10K; reviews: +1]
May 5th: [Sales: 7; pages read: 1558; rank: 11K; reviews: +0]
May 6th: price up to $3.99 [Sales: 7; pages read 3030; rank 17K; reviews: +0]
May 7th: [Sales: 11; pages read: 1539; rank 12K; reviews: +0]
May 8th: [Sales: 2; pages read: 3929; rank: 16K; reviews: +0]
May 9th: Abandon ship! Time for some promo. :D

Look, ma, no promo...  :o And no, I'm not one of those mailing-list-of-thousands people, who sends one email and watches the book shoot into the top 100. I'm very much in the prawn category, so this could all go horribly, horribly wrong. I'll post sales numbers, pages read and rank every day, in the hope that this will be instructive, amusing or possibly horrifying, in a trainwreck sort of way. Enjoy!


Book 1: launched in Sep 2014 with no promo, with predictably sad results. :(
Book 2: launched in Jan 2015 with 2 weeks of promo, a blog tour, good sales (for a prawn), a lovely long tail and a very happy author. :)
Book 3: launched in May 2015 with a week of promo, a free day for book 2, even better sales/downloads/tail. :D
Book 4: launched in Sep 2015 with 5 days of promo, a free day for book 1, modest sales during the promo, but no tail at all.  >:( However, pages read were good for the whole first month, and Amazon's email to followers brought in good sales (for me!) and a mini tail. :)
Strategy for book 5:

Given the relatively disappointing results for book 4, I've decided to experimentally launch this book with NO PROMO. Eek! As it's a sequel, I've made the previous book in the sequence 99c, but again, no paid promo. Book 5 will be 99c for three days, then go to $2.99 - that way, readers can pick up both books for the usual price for just one ($3.99).


Given that this is an anything-could-happen experiment, no real expectations for sales, rank, etc. However, I'd hope to see a repeat of book 4's steady pages read, and I'm really hoping Amazon will send out an email to followers again.

Starting point:

An unexciting rank of 96K. It's been on pre-order for 3 months, with a net total of 257 pre-orders, enough to keep it on the HNR for its sub-genres. It already has a fully-populated collection of Also-boughts.


Rank is at the end of the day (midnight Pacific time).

Fri 15th: 14 new (non-pre-order) sales/2K pages/10K rank (Release day, but no announcements)
Sat 16th: 15 sales/5K pages/15K rank (Sent to mailing list of 75, announced on blog, picked up by ebooksdiscounted)
Sun 17th: 10 sales/6K pages/12K rank (Last day at 99c - tweeted, announced on forums)
Mon 18th: 2 sales/6K pages/14K rank (price up to $2.99)
Tue 19th: 3 sales/4K pages/16K rank
Wed 20th: 27 sales  :o/4K pages read/8K rank (no idea why, but must have been a mention somewhere in cyberspace)
Thu 21st: 28 sales/3K pages read/5K (aha, Amazon emails being sent!)
Fri 22nd: 11 sales/6K pages read/7K rank
Sat 23rd: 14 sales/6K pages read/9K rank
Sun 24th: 9 sales/6K pages read/13K rank
Mon 25th: 12 sales/6K pages read/14K rank (Amazon emails still going out - got mine today)
Tue 26th: 7 sales/6K pages read/17K rank
Wed 27th: 19 sales/4K pages read
Thu 28th: 15 sales/4K pages read
Fri 29th: 14 sales/6K pages read
Sat 30th: 6 sales/7K pages read
Sun 31st: 9 sales/4K pages read
Mon 1st: 7 sales/2K pages read/24K rank
Tue 2nd: 6 sales/2K pages read/30K rank
Wed 3rd: 6 sales/3K pages read/24K rank
Thu 4th: 2 sales/4K pages read/19K rank
Fri 5th: 5 sales/4K pages read/24K rank
Sat 6th: 8 sales/2K pages read/33K rank
Sun 7th: 5 sales/3K pages read/27K rank
Mon 8th: 5 sales/2K pages read/32K rank
Tue 9th: 7 sales/3K pages read/20K rank
Wed 10th: 4 sales/3K pages read/16K rank
Thu 11th: 3 sales/2K pages read/39K rank
Fri 12th: 7 sales/1K pages read/24K rank
Sat 13th: 4 sales/3K pages read/22K rank
Sun 14th: 4 sales/3K pages read/32K rank
Mon 15th: 6 sales/2K pages read/26K rank
Tue 16th: 4 sales/3K pages read/42K rank
Wed 17th: 3 sales/2K pages read/32K rank
Thu 18th: 3 sales/1K pages read/59K rank

And after 35 days, that's probably time to say: the post-launch flush is well and truly over.

All the numbers:

Before release: 
A typical week before the new release would be 20 sales spread over all 4 books, and 40K pages read.
There were 257 pre-orders (not included in sales numbers below).

Week 1:
Book 5: 99 sales, 30K pages read
Total for all books: 237 sales, 68K pages read.

Week 2:
Book 5: 88 sales, 39K pages read
Total for all books: 259 sales, 95K pages read.

Week 3:
Book 5: 51 sales, 28K pages read
Total for all books: 150 sales, 87K pages read.

Week 4:
Book 5: 37 sales, 20K pages read
Total for all books: 90 sales, 51K pages read.

Week 5:
Book 5: 31 sales, 15K pages read
Total for all books: 78 sales, 47K pages read

Grand totals for first 5 weeks:
Book 5: 306 sales, 132K pages read
Total for all books: 814 sales, 348K pages read
Total sales including pre-orders: 1071

Comparison with first 5 weeks on previous books:
(Ignoring book 1, which was a miserable failure)

Book 2: 500 sales, 204 borrows (Jan 2015)
Book 3: 887 sales, 943 borrows (May 2015)
Book 4: 807 sales, 256K pages read (Sept 2015)
Book 5: 1071 sales, 348K pages read (Jan 2016) No paid promo


1) The power of Amazon is awesome. Those emails to followers produced something like 450 extra sales plus who knows how many pages read at no cost or inconvenience to me. Very nice.

2) KU is pretty handy, too, and it's something that kicks in after release, regardless of pre-orders. The recalibration of KENP counts, which reduced the books' sizes by around 11%, had an impact on pages read in February, though, and sales also slipped at that point.

3) Rankings. With solid launch promotion, my previous 3 books all reached ranks better than 2K; this one, with no paid promotion, never got better than 5K. Even so, sales still exceeded all expectations, and rank declined at the expected rate. And interesting ranking factoid: a year ago, 30 days after launch, Book 2 was selling around 3 copies a day, and 3 borrows, and ranked around 8-12K. A year later, 30 days after launch, Book 5 was selling around 3 copies a day and (guessing) around 3 borrows, with a rank of 20-40K. Quite a big difference.

ETA: 4) Mailing list signups are way, way better when there's no pre-order available for the next in series. Pre-orders are guaranteed sales, but a mailing list is for life, not just the next book.

Would I launch again without paid promotion? Yes, I would. After 5 weeks, this book is in much the same position as book 4 was at the same stage so I haven't lost anything by skipping the promo. I do have some promo coming up, which will hopefully keep things bumping along a bit, but overall I'm very pleased with how it went. Not quite the crash and burn I was anticipating!

Plans for Book 6 in May or thereabouts?

I have to take this no promo to its logical conclusion - no paid promo AND no pre-order. Stand back and see what happens. I'll let you all know. :-) I hope all these numbers are useful or interesting or encouraging to someone other than me.

After book 1 crash-landed within weeks, I discovered the virtues of promoting a newly-launched book with books 2 and 3: it takes maximum advantage of the Hot New Releases magic, and (hopefully) shoots the new book high enough to allow it to glide gracefully to earth rather than plummeting. The promos for the previous launches were 12 and 7 days, with promos fairly strung out, which resulted in reasonable early sales and a nice, long tail. This time I'm trying a new strategy: only 5 days, but multiple sites on most days in the hope of getting a higher sustained rank. I'll update daily with sales, pages read, rank.

Background: All books are epic fantasy adventures, stand-alone, although all set in the same world. I'm a slow writer, putting out a book every 4 months or so. Although the next book is written, it won't be ready for pre-order for weeks yet.
Current sales of the 3 existing books: 1-2 per day, plus 3K+ pages read/day.

Pricing: Pricing has been 99c throughout the pre-order period, and will stay at that level for the promotion. Then up to $4.99.

Pre-orders: 236 (way, way more than I expected)

1) Steady sales of the new book - I'd be happy with 25/day, and thrilled with 50/day.
2) A decent rank at the end of the promo (for me, 5K or better is decent).
3) Some sell-through to the other 3 books.

Total cost: $307 (eek!) I don't expect to make that back during the promotion (I'd have to shift close to 900 books). So I'm hoping for a nice, fat tail on this. Or lots and lots of page reads (KENPC is 933).

Fri 25 Sep: Release day! No ads, mailing list only. [New sales: 15; pages 1,220; rank 11K]
Sat 26 Sep: No ads, social media/blog only. [Sales: 8; pages 7K; rank 9K]
Sun 27 Sep: No ads, social media only. [Sales: 4; pages: 6K; rank 9K ]
Mon 28 Sep: Day 1: OHFB $75 [Sales 31; pages 3K; rank 11K]
Tue 29 Sep: Day 2: GenrePulse $32; BettyBookFreak $8; Bknights $21; AwesomeGang $10 [Sales 20; pages 6K; rank 5K]
Wed 30 Sep: Day 3:    BargainBooksy $40; Booktastik $10; FlurriesOfWords $5 [Sales 22; pages 4K; rank 5K]
Thu 1 Oct: Day 4: ChoosyBookworm $18; Ebooksoda $10; SweetFreeBooks $5; BookScream $3 [Sales 15; pages 5K; rank 6K]
Fri 2 Oct: Day 5: EreaderCafe $35; RobinReads $15; ENT $20 [Sales 78; pages 4K; rank 2K]

Final numbers:
Sales since release: 193
Pages read: 36K
Royalties: $207
New reviews: none (apart from ARCs)
New mailing list signups: 1
Sell-through to other books: nothing obvious

First full week post-promo
Sales: 18
Pages read: 29K
New reviews: 2
New mailing list signups: 3
Sell-through to other books: very, very limited

Second full week post-promo, helped by email to followers from Amazon
Sales: 73
Pages read: 27K
New reviews: 1
New mailing list signups: 1
Sell-through to other books: definite signs of life
After dropping down to 20K, rank bounced back to around 6K. Currently around 10K.


With the end of the first 30 days in sight for Magic Mines, I planned a little promo for a couple of the other books, to help it over the cliff. I'm doing a manual discount for The Fire Mages to ensure it's worldwide (and not using a countdown gives me free days later, if I want them). I've also put the sequel, The Fire Mages' Daughter, up for pre-order at $0.99 to take advantage of the promo. And to round things off, Kallanash will be free for the final day. Having two books on promo simultaneously was an effective strategy back in May, so I'm hoping it will work again.

The Fire Mages: $0.99 for 5 days, Kallanash FREE for 1 day only
Mon 19th: ManyBooks $25, ReadCheaply Free, Riffle $50 [Sales: 25; pages: 1K; rank: 9K]
Tue 20th:   Bknights $15.75 [Sales: 8; pages: 242; rank: 15K]
Wed 21st: Fussy Librarian $10, PeopleReads $9 [Sales: 8; pages: 257; rank: 15K]
Thu 22nd: BookBarbarian $8, FKBT $25, ENT $20 [Sales: 51; pages: 2K; rank: 5K]
Fri 23: BargainBooksy $40, DiscountBookman $15 [Sales: 44; pages: 4K; rank: 3K]
ALSO for Kallanash: FreeBooksy $100 [Downloads: 640; best rank: #298 free, #1 in Sword&Sorcery]
Sat 24th:   Prices for both back to $2.99


In mid-November, I planned a couple of free weekends to goose things up a bit. Bennamore has never been free before, so I paid for two big-hitters. Kallanash has been around the block a few times, so I went cheap. The difference is interesting.

Mages of Bennamore FREE: Sat 14-Sun 15 Nov 2015; Total cost: $203
Paid rank before: 102K
Sat 14 Nov:   OHFB $75; BookScream $3; FlurriesOfWords $5 Downloads: 1,404
Sun 15 Nov:    FreeBooksy $100; Fussy Librarian $10; PeopleReads $9.99 Downloads: 2,941
Total downloads: 4,345
Best free rank: #61
Paid rank after: 26K, dropping to 5K
Post-free sales: Mon 16:   45; Tue 17: 9

Kallanash FREE: Fri 20-Sun 22 Nov 2015; Total cost: $83
Paid rank before: 32K
Fri 20 Nov:   FKBT $25; BookBasset $8 Downloads: 276
Best free rank: #733, #1 in S&S
Sat 21 Nov:    AwesomeGang $10; EbookSoda $15; EBookHounds $10 Downloads: 166
Best free rank: #659, #2 in S&S
Sun 22 Nov:   SweetFreeBooks $5; Booktastik $10 Downloads: 219
Total downloads: 663
Best free rank: didn't bother to check
Paid rank after: 51K dropping to 30K
Post-free sales: Mon 23:  5; Tue 24: 0

The first promo, with 4,000+ downloads, produced all sorts of interesting side-effects: better rank, a flurry of reviews, sell-through to the other books and a huge jump in pages read - from around 4-5K per day to 12-15K per day, spread pretty evenly over all four books.

The second promo, with 600+ downloads - not so much. ;D

Writers' Cafe / One year ago today - obligatory anniversary post
« on: September 12, 2015, 07:28:15 AM »
Today itís exactly one year since I published my very first book. There was cake, there was champagne, there were little sausages on sticks, there was jubilation throughout the landó erm, Ross household. And I was terrified. Iíd like to laugh at myself, and say that those days are behind me now, Iím an accomplished self-pubber who can publish without fear, but nope. Still terrified with every book. That one went OK - phew! - but maybe this one will flop? It never gets less than nerve-shredding.

Whatís helped more than anything else is knowing that self-pubbers in general, and Kboarders in particular, were there, ready and willing to help out with advice and support. When I say I couldnít have done this without that support, I mean that literally. So, thank you all very, very much.

And now, the obligatory list of Stuff I've Learned:

  • Books donít sell without promotion (dur, right?).
  • Promos are fun! And addictive! And sometimes I even make money from them!
  • Two books sell more than one, and three sell more than two.
  • Two books make more work than one, and three makes more than two.
  • Not to panic. This is a long game.  <----- IMPORTANT ONE!

Someone recently posted numbers from his first yearís sales, and Iíd like to do something similar. First the lifetime stuff:

  • Sales: 2,629
  • Borrows: 2,022
  • Pages read: 353K

Monthly sales and revenues are very up and down, but hereís my way of looking at how things are improving. These are my average daily sales/borrows/royalties, split by number of books out:

  • 1 book out: 1 sale/day, <1 borrow/day, $2/day
  • 2 books out: 9 sales/day, 6 borrows/day, $20/day
  • 3 books out: 11 sales/day, 25 borrows/day, 5K pages/day, $46/day

I discovered the virtues of promotion shortly before the release of book 2, as you can probably tell. If anyone still needs convincing that writing more books (and promo!) is the best way to go, here it is. It would be lovely to think that this progression will continue indefinitely, but probably not. (10 books out: $10,000/day! Yay! Er, noÖ)

And now, on to the next year. And the year after thatÖ

PS To celebrate my first anniversary, all my books are priced at just $0.99 (or equivalent) for the weekend (up to and including September 13th).

I haven't used my Select free days options much. I prefer countdowns, where at least I make some money from sales. It seems counter-intuitive to spend money to promote a book that I'm giving away. But I like the flexibility of free days, which can be booked impulsively as late as the day before, and produce some results even without paid promo. I also enjoy experimenting, so I've been trying out various forms of free days on my slowest selling book, The Plains of Kallanash.

First experiment (19 July): one day free, with no paid promos, just blogging, tweeting with suitable hashtags, etc.
Result: 467 downloads, rank improved from 107K to 82K, 10 full-price sales the day after. Hurray!

Second experiment (9 August): one day free, no paid promos, no announcements whatsoever.
Result: 81 downloads, rank declined from 115K to 150K, no paid sales bump. Boo!

Third experiment (upcoming: 22-23 August): 2 days free, with several paid promos, including FreeBooksy. It doesn't take a clairvoyant to see that this will result in far more downloads. The question is whether the ranking will improve significantly, and whether there will be enough paid sales afterwards to justify the high cost. With a spend of $162.75, I need 60 extra sales at $3.99 (or equivalent in pages read) to break even. Here's the breakdown:

Day 1: Saturday 22nd:    Bknights ($15.75); BookScream (£2); FreeBooksy ($100); BooksButterfly ($30)

Day 1 results: 1,571 downloads; rank #119 free, #1 in Teens Sword & Sorcery free

Day 2: Sunday 23rd:    BooksButterfly (day 2); RobinReads ($15) (Also picked up by EbookDaily)

Day 2 results: 1,638 downloads; best rank #74 free; #1 in Teens Sword & Sorcery, #2 in Epic fantasy

Total: 3,209 downloads

Rank has improved from 61K to 31K {ETA: best rank achieved: 11K}, and I've seen a bump in sales of the other 2 books and pre-orders for book 4, plus a number of sales for the promoted book today. Not a bad result.

I'll update this with the results of both days and the post-promo bump (if any!).

A week later:

Sales: a good bump for the promoted book for the first 2 days after the promo, then dropping right back to normal levels.
Borrows: started increasing as soon as the promo ended, still high (about a third up on normal levels).
Pre-orders: increased numbers for a few days, now back to normal.
Rank: slithered steadily downwards, but still above the starting point.
Reviews: none extra.
Mailing list sign-ups: none extra.
ROI: this was an expensive promo, but even so, the combination of increased sales plus borrows plus pre-orders means I've just about covered the cost already.


Making a book free without telling anyone about it is a Very Bad Idea - few downloads, big decline in paid rank. The choice seems to be between paying nothing, and hoping that social networking will be effective, or paying for a big promotion, and hoping for enough of a tail to recover the costs. It does seem to be necessary to shift a lot of copies to ensure enough ghost borrows to prevent rank declining.

Overal, I was very happy with both my zero-cost and my expensive free-day promotions.

Writers' Cafe / A low-key countdown promo: Aug 7-12 [WITH FINAL NUMBERS]
« on: August 11, 2015, 08:37:30 AM »
I haven't had any promotions since early June (apart from one impulsive free day in July), since I wanted to get a baseline for the new KU. The result is that sales and rankings have steadily drifted southwards, from 10 sales/day in late June to an average of 2 sales/day recently. So, time for a little push. [I've been travelling, so I'm a little late posting this.]

Background: I'm promoting the most recent book, Bennamore, released in May. To date, sales are 500+, borrows 500+, pages read ~70K. All three books are epic fantasy, stand-alones but set in the same world.

Objective: Nothing fancy, just a bump in sales and rankings, with (hopefully) some sell-through to the other two books and some pre-orders on the fourth. Some additional reviews and mailing-list signups would be awesome. Since the total cost of $160 is equivalent to 228 sales @ 70% of $0.99, I don't expect an immediate ROI.

Strategy: No BookBub (ha! Chance would be a fine thing) and I used both my two biggest hitting sites (ENT and OHFB) on the launch promo in May, so this time FKBT and Booksends are my lynchpins to end on a high, hopefully. The first four days are filled with reliable smaller sites. I was lucky enough to pass the 10 review mark in time to book a few extra sites.

Pro-tip: When booking a Countdown at the end of a Select period, leave a couple of days at least between the end of the countdown and the renewal date. Sometimes the renewal date isn't quite what you think it is.

Expectations: low, since the best-performing sites are out, and it's August. I'll be very happy with 100 sales overall (10/day with the smaller sites on days 1-4 and 30/day on the two bigger sites). But even a few extra sales per day will be good, to set things up for the release of book 4 in September.

Total cost: $160
Fri 7 Aug: Day 1:    ReadCheaply Free [Sales: 16]
Sat 8 Aug: Day 2:    Booktastik $10; BettyBookFreak $8; Bknights $21 [Sales: 18]
Sun 9 Aug: Day 3:    ChoosyBookworm $18; EbookSoda $10 [Sales: 18]
Mon 10 Aug: Day 4:    SweetFreeBooks $5; AwesomeGang $10; BookBarbarian $8 [Sales: 23]
Tue 11 Aug: Day 5:         FKBT $25 [Sales: 13]
Wed 12 Aug: Day 6:    Booksends $25; ManyBooks $20 [Sales: 26]
Thu 13 Aug: I would have left this as an ad-free extra day to allow late-comers to take advantage, but I miscalculated the date of the Select renewal, so in the US the price reverts to normal today. In the UK, it's still cheap (I think). [Sales: 1]

Final numbers

Total sales: 115

This is the lowest result I've had from a countdown (previous ones brought 135, 188 and 327 sales). It exceeded my expectations, but only just. Of the sites used, FKBT was a disappointment, ReadCheaply the pleasant surprise (and it was free!). Best rank achieved was #8,739. For those interested, the 115 sales were 101 from the US, 11 from the UK and 3 from elsewhere.

The biggest disappointment was that there was no sign at all of sell-through to the other books, and the instant drop to pre-promo sales levels suggests there won't be any sort of tail. The best I can say about it is that pre-orders of the fourth book, out next month, were higher than expected (23, when previous weeks had been running at 7-10). So there's that. It's interesting that the pre-order book is also at 99c; maybe countdown readers are just happy at that price point, and won't pay full price?

Writers' Cafe / The new dashboard is up for KU2
« on: June 30, 2015, 11:37:50 PM »
The pages read numbers are in a separate graph, and borrows have gone (still in the Excel reports, of course). No idea where the actual page counts for the books might be.

EDIT: I'm keeping this thread updated with weekly reports to show the tail from the promo.

I've also detailed a Countdown promo on The Plains of Kallanash from 1-7 June.

Another day, another promo...

Background: The Mages of Bennamore is epic fantasy with added romance, a stand-alone, but all the books are set in the same world. Book 1 released last September with no promo and sank without trace. Book 2 released in January with a blog tour and 12 days of promo, and did better (300 sales/borrows). It still has a few sales/borrows a day.

Strategy: Not to break records, or hit the stratosphere, but to produce sustained sales over a 7-day period, with the aim of achieving a solid ranking for the 30-day Hot New Releases window. I've chosen 7 of my best previous ad sites, to end with ENT. I was rejected by both Midlist (fully booked on date) and Booksends (new release) for day 4, so I've filled in the hole mid-campaign with a number of smaller sites.

Pricing: Total spend: $245. Promoted book is $0.99 (royalty of 35%). I don't expect to recover the cost fully (700 books? 100/day? I don't think so), but there should be some sell-through to the other two books at $3.99. And a tail! Please let there be a nice tail.

Starting position: Promoted book had 34 pre-orders, and a rank of 115,449 at launch. Book 1 is ranked 135,320. Book 2 is ranked 75,247.

Fri 15 May:   launch; no ads [Sales: 7; borrows: 4 (not counting pre-orders)]
Sat 16 May:   no ads; social [Sales: 7; borrows: 2]
Sun 17 May:    no ads; social [Sales: 4; borrows: 4] Rank is 26,303 before promos start.
Mon 18 May:   day 1: GenrePulse $24 (20% discount) [Sales: 6; borrows: 3] {Previous: 23}
Tue 19 May:   day 2: Bknights $21 [Sales: 14; borrows: 4] {Previous: 22}
Wed 20 May:   day 3: BargainBooksy $40 [Sales: 29; borrows: 2] {Previous: 38}
Thu 21 May:    day 4: RobinReads $10; SweetFreeBooks $5; Booktastik $5; BettyBookFreak Free; Ebooksoda $10
                                   AwesomeGang $10 [Sales: 30; borrows: 2]
Fri 22 May:    day 5: EreaderCafe $25 [Sales: 13; borrows: 1]{Previous: 51}
Sat 23 May:    day 6: OHFB $75 [Sales: 39; borrows: 3]{Previous: 48, 79}
Sun 24 May:    day 7: ENT $20 [Sales: 125; borrows: 8]{Previous: 80}
Mon 25 May:    day 8:,, All free (thank you, Vinny!) [Sales: 18; borrows: 2]
Tue 26 May: price goes to $3.99

Summary: sales: 274; borrows: 25

Well, I didn't recover the cost, but the surprisingly strong ending got well on the way. The spectacular day 7 was a happy collision of events: ENT + the second-day bounce from OHFB + free day for The Fire Mages (picked up by Pixel of Ink) + a mention of all the books on Reddit. The promoted book (The Mages of Bennamore) reached a high point ranking of 1,576 paid, #7 in the Teens Sword & Sorcery sub-cat.

Countdown promo for The Plains of Kallanash: 1-7 June; total spend: $139]

Slipping this in before the KDP Select renewal on 9th June. Only objective is a few extra sales, and maybe a new review or two. In the week before the promo, daily sales/borrows were 7 per day, so any increase on that is a win. Starting rank is around 22K.

Mon 1 June:     Day 1: Bknights $21 [Sales: 20; borrows: 3] {Previous: 22, 26, 14}
Tue 2 June:      Day 2: BookBarbarian $8: [Sales: 21; borrows: 9]
Wed 3 June:     Day 3: FKBT $25: [Sales: 24; borrows: 4] {Previous: 16, 35}
Thu 4 June:      Day 4: Booksends $ $25: [Sales: 33; borrows: 11] {Previous: 47}
Fri 5 June:        Day 5: BargainBooksy $40: [Sales: 22; borrows: 13] {Previous: 38, 29}
Sat 6 June:       Day 6: ENT $20: [Sales: 41; borrows: 6] {Previous: 80, 125}
Sun 7 June:      Day 7: No ads [Sales: 27; borrows: 8]

Summary: sales: 188; borrows: 54

This is an improvement on the previous countdown for Kallanash, which managed 135 sales and 15 borrows, but then I only had 4 days of ads that time. Sales were definitely not stellar, but solid on every day of the promo, and got my rank from 22K to 4K, so I'm very happy with that.


For those who are interested, I'll post weekly summaries here so you can see how the tail plays out. Before the launch and promo, daily sales averaged about 5.

Week 0 (promo week): 52 sales/borrows per day, over all 3 books.
Week 1: 50 sales/borrows per day (but sales are down, borrows are up).
Week 2: 79 sales/borrows per day (but 34 are from the countdown, so actually 45, down a little from week 1).
Week 3: 50 sales/borrows per day.
Week 4: 30 sales/borrows per day.
Week 5: 24 sales/borrows per day.
Week 6: 19 sales/borrows per day; 7 sales per day after borrows stopped on July 1st.
Week 7: 5 sales/day, plus unknown number of borrows (used to be twice sales or more but who can say?)
Week 8: 4 sales/day, plus steady pages read

To be continued...

Writers' Cafe / Book 3 is afloat... thanks to Kboards!
« on: May 16, 2015, 10:03:44 AM »
So yesterday was launch day for my third book, and - astonishingly - everything went smoothly. But while I waited for midnight to roll round and my pre-ordered copy to wing its way to my Kindle, I had time to reflect on just how far Iíve come since book 1 tiptoed bashfully onstage last September. I know itís trite to say this, but itís also true - I couldnít possibly have done this without the good people of Kboards.

Everything I know about self-pubbing (which isnít much yet) I learned here, because, however obscure the topic, someone here is an expert and happy to share their knowledge. Thatís the most awesome part - how willing everyone is to help out the beginners, by explaining stuff in minute detail: Iím thinking of Evenstarís thread on keywords, for instance, or the blurbology of J R Lummox, Mark Dawsonís FB ads tutorials and Wayne Stinnettís meticulously planned promotions. And sometimes itís not so much knowledge thatís needed as a touch of bracing Antipodean common sense from Patty Jansen. :D

So thank you, everyone on Kboards, for your inspiration, encouragement and can-do mentality. This is a wonderful place, and Harvey and the mods do a great job keeping it that way.

Writers' Cafe / My big fat countdown promo: Mar 21-27 [FINAL RESULTS]
« on: March 22, 2015, 04:33:03 AM »
So I might have blown the budget on this one: $201 in total.  :o Partly because OHFB very kindly featured me for free on my last CD, so I'm paying my dues this time, and partly because I've found that the more expensive sites bring the best return, in general (ENT excepted). I need to shift 350 copies to cover the cost - ha ha ha! But I should get some good sales at full price afterwards, and maybe some sell-through to the other book. I'll keep this post updated throughout. Results are sales only; borrows seem to burble away as usual during a promo, so I assume they're not much affected.

Background: The promoted book, The Fire Mages, was released in January and a 2-week promo got it off to a flying start, [results here:,206391.0.html] peaking at a rank of around 2,000. Since then, it's drifted slowly down to a rank of 25K-40K. I have one other book, currently yoyo-ing around 70K-140K. Genre is epic fantasy with added romance. Books are stand-alones, not a series, but set in the same world.

Objectives: To bump the book up the rankings a bit, plus the usual - more reviews, more mailing list signups. I won't have any more promos before book 3 comes out in May, so I'm hoping this will keep things ticking over until then.

Strategy: I prefer to have one solid ad site per day, aiming for steady sales rather than a big bang. However, on my last CD, I had no ads on day 1 and got a miserable 1 sale, so this time I'm stacking all the cheaper sites up front. I've chosen sites not used for this book before (except for the ever-reliable Bknights, my promo lucky charm).

Day 1: Sat 21st:    Choosy Bookworm $8; Fussy Librarian $8; Bknights $21; People Reads $8.99
                                BookBarbarian picked it up for free - thank you very much! Sales: 42
Day 2: Sun 22nd:    No ads     Sales: 29
Day 3: Mon 23rd:    Booksends $25     Sales: 47
Day 4: Tue 24th:    EreaderCafe $30    Sales: 51
Day 5: Wed 25th:    FKBT $25     Sales: 35
Day 6: Thu 26th:    OHFB $75     Sales: 79 - woo hoo!
Day 7: Fri 27th:        No ads     Sales: 44

Overall numbers:
The Fire Mages (promoted book): Sales: 327; borrows: 57 (about twice the previous week)
The Plains of Kallanash: Sales: 2 (same as prev. week); borrows: 12 (twice prev. week)

To my surprise, I nearly reached my target of 350 sales to cover the cost of the promotion. An extra 3 sales at full price will cover it. An extra 18 sales will also cover the lost revenue from normal sales (based on the previous week). So I should end up with a positive ROI in a few days.

Best ranking was this:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,832 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    #10 in Books > Romance > Fantasy
    #17 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Coming of Age
    #34 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

Kallanash ended the week pretty much where it started, at #73,993.

So far I've had NO noticeable sell-through, additional reviews or mailing list signups, but that will come. I'm very happy with the way this has gone. And now, a quiet phase before book 3 comes out in May.

Writers' Cafe / A modest Countdown promo 16-22 Feb [FINAL NUMBERS]
« on: February 16, 2015, 03:54:32 PM »
So here I am again - another week, another promo. My first book, The Plains of Kallanash, is almost at the end of its current KDP Select period, and it would be a shame to waste the opportunity. So... my first attempt at a Countdown. I'm trying out some sites I've not used before, so as not to wear out my welcome, plus the ever-reliable Bknights. The only objective is to shift a few extra copies: 10 a day would be nice. I'll keep this post updated each day.

Promotion sites:
FKBT $25; Fussy Librarian $9; BKnights $21; OHFB free (maybe - I've applied, but won't know until the day)
Would have liked but can't use: Midlist - needs 20+ reviews; Booksends - needs 90 days since last free
Total cost: $55

Day 1: Mon 16: no ads, just social, to see if the Countdown alone has any impact. Sales: 1
Day 2: Tue 17: Fussy Librarian Sales: 8
Day 3: Wed 18: Bknights Sales: 26
Day 4: Thu 19: FKBT Sales: 16
Day 5: Fri 20: OHFB (maybe) YES! It ran... Sales: 48
Day 6: Sat 21: no ads Sales: 29
Day 7: Sun 22: no ads Sales: 7

Final numbers for the week:
Promotion sales: US 127; UK 3
Total sales (both books): 159 + 62 borrows
Highest ranking: #2,971
Not a major driver, but ROI: I needed 80 promotion sales to cover the ad costs, so job done.

A Countdown is a good way to boost sales but only combined with paid ads; Amazon alone won't do it (for me, at least). The book never hit the front page of the Countdown section of Amazon, although it eventually struggled onto the first page of the fantasy Countdowns (the highest rank I saw was #9).

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