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Messages - erikhanberg

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101
Writers' Cafe / Re: sci-fi cover. Looking for feedback!
« on: October 09, 2015, 03:51:33 pm »
First, regarding the original covers, you are an awesome artist!  I agree that they don't feel right for your genre (at least for novels), but that does not take away the fact that they are well-executed.  While not quite right for a book cover, they remind me of Analog Science Fiction & Fact.  You might consider submitting your artwork to them. 

I like the 2nd set of covers. You could keep the sphere and use it to tie the series together with different colors on the covers.

First, if you painted those covers, you are an awesome artist!  I agree that they don't feel right for your genre, but that does not take away the fact that they are well-executed.  While not quite right for a book cover, they remind me of Analog Science Fiction & Fact.  You might consider submitting your artwork to them. 

I like the 2nd set of covers. You could keep the sphere and use it to tie the series together with different colors on the covers.

The artist on the first covers was Chandler O'Leary, who does watercolor, pen and ink, and a variety of styles. (I highly recommend her all-illustrated travel sketchbook site, Drawn the Road Again fwiw. http://drawntheroadagain.com She's a good friend and I think the covers I commissioned probably ended up being more for me and not for the reader or to serve the book. A mistake of judgement on my part.

I agree, the second set of covers sells the books very well. Thanks for the feedback on the spheres!


102
Writers' Cafe / Re: sci-fi cover. Looking for feedback!
« on: October 09, 2015, 03:48:27 pm »
I think as long as the background differs, the sphere works fine staying the same. They look distinct enough.

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking too, so long as the colors and background differ. Thanks!

103
After everyone's advice, I've revised the covers with the help of Rachel at Littera http://www.litteradesigns.com/, (who is great and I recommend her work!)

You can see the fruits of her work:



I think it's definitely much more in line for the sci-fi adventure genre I'm writing in! I'm excited to re-publish the first book and launch the second book with this look.

My main question for the wonderful hive mind of the Writer's Cafe: can the sphere stay the same in the middle (with the colors and titles changing between books) or should be find a distinct image for each one?

I rather like it, but I'd love some group thoughts. As always—thank you WC'ers for any advice or thoughts!

104
Writers' Cafe / Re: What is your most unmarketable story idea?
« on: September 23, 2015, 02:02:04 pm »
I've wanted to write "The World Explained to Mozart" for years. Basically, Mozart wakes up and the narrator explains everything to him in terms that someone from the 1700s would understand. How TVs work and iPhones and planes and how his music is used mostly to sooth babies. There's no other story than that. Which is why I haven't written it.

105
Writers' Cafe / Re: Oyster shutting down
« on: September 22, 2015, 09:29:14 am »
I simply cannot understand how B&N/Apple/Kobo/Google don't get this and spend the pittance it would take to put their stores on par with Amazon's.

I don't get this either, unless what Amazon's done is WAY harder than it seems. Which actually might be true, now that I think about it, given how badly Apple has managed to do search in the App store.

106
Writers' Cafe / Re: Oyster shutting down
« on: September 22, 2015, 09:15:43 am »
Ebook subscription services cannot be run at a profit. It's simply not possible. Comparisons to digital music don't work. Books aren't music. They're not consumed in the same way and what works for one isn't going to work for the other. And people don't go out and buy ebook subscriptions like they do gym memberships after New Year's. That's pure wishful thinking on the part of the subscription services. Any ebook subscription service is going to operate as a loss because the people buying the subcriptions are the ones who'll read a book a day.

It makes sense for Amazon to run KU at a loss because it's their gateway drug. You go in to get a quick read and end up buying a new 55" LCD TV for your mom's birthday present while you're in there.

I'm sure there is a way to run a subscription service at least close to break even. But I agree with the larger truth here: books are primarily about selling something else these days. Prime memberships, or iPhones, or Kobo readers. These tech players need to have books on offer so that they have an "ecosystem" but they are only there to sell that ecosystem better. On the one hand that means the surviving players are competing for us, but on the other hand it means that if you don't have something else besides books, it's going to be a hard road (see Oyster, Uncovered Books, and several other app-only readers).

107
Writers' Cafe / Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
« on: September 09, 2015, 11:58:47 am »
So...

I ended up spending more than $100.

But at this point, I just can't unlock the secret of Amazon ads.

In August I paid $185.56 for ads for my bundle of three books in the mystery series. My revenue for the month, I estimate at ... $190.19. So $4.63 profit for a month of spending. Big money.

The ads don't show that they performed as well as that, actually. Both show they lost money, but from what I can tell, my sales were higher (probably thanks to movement of the books on the lists due to the ads).

August had 24 sales and 14,693 pages read for the book.

September so far (with no ads running) has no sales and 1307 pages read. Even with WAY less revenue, that's a better per day rate than I was getting.

I kept feeling like I was close to cracking this, but I never got there. More pages in the book (ie, a bigger bundle) would likely produce higher return. But I'm not not even sure of that.

I may keep experimenting at some point but for now, I think I am pretty well done with this attempt. Onward!

108
Writers' Cafe / Re: I Don't Understand Amazon's Math
« on: September 02, 2015, 03:46:55 pm »
This thread went WAY off the tracks flightpath from where I thought it was going.

109
Writers' Cafe / Re: One book only - make it free?
« on: September 01, 2015, 06:57:01 pm »
Could you set up the second book as a pre-order? That way you are getting at least some benefit to the free book.

110
Two thoughts:

If you are going to design your own cover, watching cover design tutorials and studying some design principles is going to get you farther than any particular tool. Great designers can make great covers in about any tool, I'm guessing.

That said, the biggest benefit of hiring someone is that you get a lot of emotional investment out of the process. You might like a mediocre cover because YOU created it and YOU are proud of your work. But if someone you hired gave it to you, you would send it back.

My wife is a graphic designer and we run a marketing firm together. And we have basically stopped having her design my covers (even though she's free for me to hire!). The main reason: we both got too invested in something that wasn't right. Now we're hiring it out.

$0.02.

111
Writers' Cafe / Re: December Book Launch
« on: September 01, 2015, 06:44:42 pm »
If you have a big mailing list that will download it when you email them, then it doesn't matter. But if not, I'd delay until early January. That's what I'm thinking about doing.

112
Writers' Cafe / Re: How much dialogue is too much dialogue
« on: August 31, 2015, 02:17:30 pm »
"Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages" is solely dialogue. Not even "he said" and "she said."

As thesmallprint said, if you're good at it, use it!

113
Writers' Cafe / Re: Why aren't KindleWorlds books in KU?
« on: August 28, 2015, 07:34:15 pm »
Yes, like JA Cipriano above, my KW book showed up just fine in Author Central and on my Amazon author page.

114
Writers' Cafe / Re: Why aren't KindleWorlds books in KU?
« on: August 28, 2015, 03:35:25 pm »
Phillip, I'm guessing you're right. It's probably an issue of timing (as in, they secured the rights for KindleWords before they had launched KU). I bet they will try to push for it in re-negotiations of therms if they can. KU and KindleWorlds seem like a natural fit. A fan of a certain world might join KU in order to read the many many books in that world.

115
Writers' Cafe / Why aren't KindleWorlds books in KU?
« on: August 28, 2015, 11:35:41 am »
I have a Veronica Mars novella in the KindleWorlds program and I was surprised not to see it available in KU. It is, after all, already exclusive to Kindle.

I emailed KDP and got this response:

Quote
I apologize, but Kindle Unlimited program is only for books published on Kindle Direct Publishing directly. This feature is not available for books published on our Kindle Worlds platform.

However, I do consider it would be a great to have this feature available for Kindle Worlds authors, so the books can gain more visibility and popularity. For this reason, I've contacted and shared this information with our Developers team as we plan further improvements.

Kindle Worlds wouldn't exist without authors, and this feedback serves an important role in helping us to improve our platform and provide a better service.

It was nice to get a human's response. I think it makes a lot of sense. If you're already exclusive, why not?

116
The ads send traffic to Amazon via a slightly circuitous route. No logging into accounts is required.

Mark, maybe I'm confused. For iOS (what I'm most familiar with)... doesn't Facebook load links in a browser that is still within the Facebook app? And even if I were logged into Amazon in the Safari app, the Facebook app wouldn't know that right? So someone who clicked buy on Amazon would have to sign in to Amazon to finish the order. Whereas on the desktop, someone is very likely already logged in. So when they click on a Facebook ad in their browser, they have a single "click to buy" option.

I wonder if that difference could be meaningful for ad conversions. Or maybe I'm missing something.

117
I wonder how much of it has to do with the Facebook app experience. I don't think Facebook knows my Amazon information so if I click to Amazon in the FB app on iOS, I'd likely have to log in to Amazon to actually buy, right? But MANY people have browsers on their desktops that know their Amazon info so it's just a click. They don't have to fill out passwords. Even small things like that could affect returns.

118
Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone Gotten Results Running an Amazon Ad Campaign?
« on: August 18, 2015, 02:01:43 pm »
I have a thread going where I update my results every so often. Like Facebook ads, the only way it seems to have any chance of success is with high-price books. I'm keeping it focused on my nonprofit books and mystery bundle for now.

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,215862.msg3075415.html

119
I wrote about the topic a bit on my blog: http://www.cityofzee.com/breaking-tech-companies-are-competitive-places-to-work/

In short, tech companies are hard places to work. Two years ago there were handwringing about Yahoo's work policies. Working for Steve Jobs was no picnic.

High stakes jobs have high pressure. How many employees in the White House today have good work/life balance. I'm not dismissing some of the specific issues, which are troubling. But overall, I think this is a mostly overblown article.

120
To the OP of this thread, I can condemn ideas I feel are sexist and still 100% believe in free speech and the First Amendment.

Free speech means that if you have a blog or a book, the government can't shut it down. The author has all the right in the world to publish it.

But I have all the right in the world to say that the blog or book is sexist or that no one should read it. I can even call my local bookstore and protest them stocking it. This is how a market works. The right to free speech does not translate to the right to have your book in stock or people to read it or the right not to be criticized.

BUT. If the government steps in and tells my local bookstore they can't stock sexist books, I will fight to the death along side the bookstore and the sexist authors—however much I disagree with them—for their right to publish.

121
Writers' Cafe / Re: Are American women too manly?
« on: August 16, 2015, 08:32:26 pm »
Not valid. Untrue. Please don't promote this one.

122
Writers' Cafe / Re: Taking the Shark Tank Approach to Kindle Publishing
« on: August 13, 2015, 09:02:59 pm »
I don't think it's out of line to ask about successful titles. Why is that a secret? I don't have any problem (in general) with the model that Meg/The Publisher is using. As she said, if it produces a good story, why not?

But I do feel like (to use a term my wife often uses) my belly buzzer goes off when a publisher doesn't want to tell you what his or her titles are.

For the past four years, I've found the Kboards Writers Cafe to be a very positive place to share experience and the ups/downs of this world. We all have our own level of what we're willing to share (I'm sharing regular screenshots of my attempts with Amazon's KDP Select ad system on a thread but I wouldn't expect everyone to do that) but I also feel like some level of sharing is appropriate.

123
Writers' Cafe / Re: Taking the Shark Tank Approach to Kindle Publishing
« on: August 13, 2015, 08:01:47 pm »
While I share some initial hesitation with others who already posted, I am not against the idea that you can be a "publisher" who adds value by understanding the market better than anyone else you are hiring. Also, if you are taking the risk (paying the writer, paying the artists, etc) then I think it makes sense that you are the person reaping the reward.

I'm curious: what do you pay your writers? Do you use multiple writers under the same pen name (like a Franklin W Dixon/Hardy Boys set up?) How long of books do you look to publish?

Also, can you link to any books you've published under the system?

124
Writers' Cafe / Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
« on: August 10, 2015, 10:13:29 am »
A quick update for anyone still following along.

I spent $100 on a campaign for my bundled mystery book. It ended with a poor return: something like $20 in sales for $100 spent.

BUT. Since the ad ran out, it has added several more impressions/page views AND sales. In fact, it now estimates sales at $62.91. And I'm seeing purchases of the book on my KDP dashboard. So it is selling.

The ad ran out of budget, so I don't exactly know how to explain this. Delayed reporting? People who downloaded the sample and decided to purchase later?

I'm trying another identical ad for the bundle but with a much lower cost per click. We'll see if that leads to a better ROI. But I'll still be watching the closed ad to see if it gets closer to a break even over time.

125
Writers' Cafe / Re: sci-fi cover. Looking for feedback!
« on: August 04, 2015, 07:32:06 am »
Thanks everyone. I am heartened by those who see the possible throwbacks to Dune/old school sci go covers. It's very similar to what I was going for. On the other hand, you've made my job much harder! I like the idea of pushing these a bit more in the sci-fi direction before starting over.

So appreciate the help in the writer's cafe!

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